While many were quarantined over the summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, one activity that saw an uptick was golf, given its spacious nature coupled with the outside fresh air that gave folks an extra bit of comfort.
One of the beneficiaries of the pandemic was Wing Point Golf & Country Club, a private club on Bainbridge Island. General manager and head PGA pro Jeff D’Amico said the course saw a record number of rounds this past season.
“We’re going to do about 30,000 rounds this year,” up from an average of about 20,000, he said in late December. “We averaged about 150 players a day from May through the end of October.”
The primary reason for the spike — besides people looking for a safe activity — was the lack of organized events and tournaments that are normally held at the club, giving more opportunities for members to play a simple round of golf.
D’Amico said: “We were very paired down in terms of the organized things. It was an eventless, record-play season for us.”
The club hopes to hold these kinds of group functions by the start of summer, if it is safe to do so. Right now, they’re only offering golf and outdoor dining so COVID protocols can be upheld.
Wing Point was closed from March 23 through May 12 due to the pandemic, giving the golf course the first extended rest it has ever had and allowing time for staff to conduct some work on bunkers, new holes, green complexes, tee boxes, etc. The club has only had one asymptomatic case of the coronavirus on the property, which caused a seven-day closure.
“Other than that, we haven’t had any issues with anybody getting sick,” D’Amico said. “That’s a testament to our members and taking this thing seriously. We’ve been able to withstand our full labor force, which we’re really proud of.”
D’Amico said the club had over 30 new golf members join, so membership is now full. Wing Point has close to 600 members; 410 of whom are golfers, 150 social and dining members, and 30 senior members over age 80.
Originating in 1903, Wing Point was a nine-hole course until it was redesigned in the late 1980s with a back-nine. Over the past five years, the course has gone through a full-course renovation project.
“We have kind of melded the two nines’ closer together architecturally in terms of…creating these big shared fairway-type spaces,” D’Amico said. “It’s not a long golf course but it’s also super-challenging. I’ve been here seventeen years, and it’s been a complete transformation.”
The par 71 course plays 6,120 yards from the back tees and offers five tee choices for golfers of every level. The course provides tree-lined fairways along with poa annua greens and fairways that are tightly mown.
“In the Northwest, it’s all about water, drainage and sand,” D’Amico said about the course maintenance. “Over the long haul, the firmness of the conditions over the course of the winter allows it to be played for twelve months. It’s a 24/7 job for our superintendent and our crew of maintenance guys who work their rear ends off. There’s not a day off ever.”
Typically, Wing Point hosts several tournaments, including the men’s and women’s club championships, invitationals, and senior and couples events. Instruction is available to members and non-members taught by PGA staff D’Amico, Austin Hurt and Dominic Lacie.
“In our little community, the game’s grown a ton,” D’Amico said. “We’ve updated our driving range and practice areas. Over the last five years, we’ve seen rounds start to tick up; we’ve seen membership and families get younger. The growth of the game is happening right before our eyes right now.”
Before coming to Wing Point in 2004, D’Amico was a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, pitching seven games in the 2000 season. His passion for golf stems from his childhood, growing up near Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, where he worked and also played.
“I was lucky enough to live in a place that had a major championship golf course,” D’Amico said, referring to the 1998 PGA Championship won by Vijay Singh. “When I got done playing baseball, I came back to the Seattle area with my wife. Golf was always in my blood and sort of a natural fit for me. I’ve been able to watch something grow and build something and hopefully make Wing Point a better place than when I got here. That’s the goal every day.”
*Wing Point Golf & Country Club is located at 811 Cherry Ave. Phone 206-842-2688.
*Four kinds of memberships are offered: Proprietary Golf – equity membership that includes golf, swimming, tennis, dining and social privileges for the entire family; Intermediate Golf non-equity membership for ages 21-49, which includes golf, swimming, tennis and dining room privileges for the family; Social, includes swimming, tennis and dining; and Dining membership.