The problem of what to do about hungry golfers has really manifested itself in the post COVID-19 world.
As we reported almost two months ago, golf courses are having a real problem getting staff, especially in their food and beverage operations.
Necessity is the mother of invention, however, and at least two area golf courses, Knollwood and Sawmill, may have found a solution to ravenous golfers — food trucks.
Before the why, there is a back story.
Jason Cassis, co-owner of Knollwood Golf Club said that when the pandemic hit, they lost 100 per cent of their food and beverage revenue as it related to events, like weddings and banquets and everyday golfers.
“Most golf courses do not run profitable food operations with the absence of events, he says. “Volume and margins of a foursome sitting in the clubhouse is not typically enough to offset the fixed costs of the food and beverage department which includes a chef, and serving staff.”
Cassis says that when golf courses began reopening, the big events were very, very slow to come back. He says golf courses were forced into making decisions regarding their money-losing food and beverage operations with no idea when or if weddings and banquets would return.
And, on top of that was the problem of finding staff, especially seasonal staff.
“Your events can run year-round but your burger and beer business only runs for about six months,” he says. “In the absence of being able to find labor, we had to come up with a solution for leagues and for tournaments and for day-to-day golfers who are hungry.”
Cassis credits Knollwood general manager Nadia Clarke with the answer.
They outsourced sandwiches to a grocery chain and moved them and the soft drinks into the pro shop.
And for the really hungry golfers they brought in Hammer Hogs BBQ Food Truck. It’s open seven days a week from 11 am to 7 pm and is located between the putting green and the 10th tee at Old Knollwood.
“It’s been really well received by the golfers and we’ve even had people driving by on Shaver Road who have stopped to eat at the food truck,” says Cassis. “We’re running a pilot at the Old Course and so far, it’s been doing well and food truck operator is happy and is doing well.”
Cassis says it’s doing so well in the fact that he thinks they may double down and have one set up at New Knollwood next year as well.
Carrie Julie, who owns and operates Sawmill, down the peninsula in Fenwick with her husband Jeremy, have had a staffing problem as well but their situation was a little different from Knollwood’s.
“On Friday nights before COVID, we had done a Friday night music series at the golf course and it drew a lot of people,” Julie says. “The membership wanted to have the music series again but the thought of having 200 people at the golf course and not having a cook — we just couldn’t do it.”
Julie says the stress of trying to figure out what to do had become unbearable when they hit on the food trick idea.
“I had been following a couple of food trucks on social media and we contact Carson’s Food Truck out of St. Catharines and we do it every Friday night from 4-9 pm They serve out of the food truck and we serve beverages and it’s been a match made in heaven,” she says.
“We know that the quality is there, and that they’re going to be there. We decided to do it just one day a week this year but if it stays as successful as it has been we will look at doing it more days a week, absolutely.”
Whole-in-One: My ratio of aces made by me to aces made by my playing partners is not very good.
I have yet to make a hole-in-one, but earlier this week I will witness my fourth. It was made by Mary Beth McKenna of Burlington who hit a perfect shot on the 180-yard third hole at Westmount Golf and Country Club with a four iron. It landed just short and right of the hole and curled into the cup.
McKenna, who is in charge of amateur tournaments for Golf Canada, was at Westmount with a number of golf writers to promote the Canadian Women’s Amateur championship which is at the Kitchener club next month.
There were three aces recently at Willow Valley, Mark Foley on the 105-yard 17th hole with a utility wedge, Pat Collins on the 97-yard eighth hole with a pitching wedge and Matt Donaldson on the 115-yard ninth hole with a two iron .