WINNIPEG -- Many businesses have struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They were shut down and there was uncertainty if and when they would start up again and what business would be like when they returned.

The feeling of uncertainty was very similar in the golf community when the pandemic first broke out and if people would hit the links even if courses reopened.

But, once they were allowed to return, Winnipeggers didn't disappoint, as city-run courses were the busiest they had been in 15 years.

Dave Comaskey, who is the golf operations coordinator for the city's Golf Service department, said this year has exceeded their expectations.

"We started to see a lot of new people to the game that had either never played before or hadn't played in a number of years and just knowing golf was a safe sport to partake in," said Comaskey.

Crescent Drive, Kildonan Park, and Windsor Park are three courses run exclusively by the city and each performed extremely well throughout the pandemic.

The Crescent Drive course saw the largest uptick in rounds played, as there were around 10,000 more rounds played compared to 2019, which is a 44 per cent increase.

Windsor Park saw an additional 7,000 rounds played and Kildonan Park saw an extra 6,000 rounds on the greens, with the city expecting to see around 35,000 at Kildonan Park for the entire season.

Comaskey said they received a lot of positive feedback not only because the courses reopened at the beginning of May, but also because of the safety procedures that were in place.

"We like most, if not every other golf course put a lot of measures to make sure people were safe and they were very pleased by that."

He said there is an expectation that next year will look very similar to what the world has seen in 2020, and Comaskey said the hope is the players that were at the course this year are around in 2021, especially the new players.

"Even if someone was able to wave a magic wand and we were to be back in a public health situation like we were a year ago, where COVID wasn't our reality. I would hope that a number of the people that played this year continue to play."

Comaskey added the success the golf industry has had this year reminds him of when Tiger Woods first came to the golf scene and how he was a major factor in the spike in participation in the sport.

He said if the high number continues next year, it will not only be good for Winnipeg but also the province as a whole.