SCHENECTADY -- Practices have changed for motorized golf carts at Schenectady Municipal.
Prices are also expected to change.
Officials at the Oregon Avenue golf course expect to receive city permission to raise rental fees for the gas-powered carts. Golfers who traditionally have doubled up in one cart for 9- or 18-hole rounds must now ride solo -- a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"Instead of having two carts maximum per foursome, now we're sending out four," said Matt Daley, Muni's head golf pro. "So you're losing revenue as a result of that, but even more so, your expenses are now adding up quicker.
"We're having to fuel the carts more," Daley added. "We're having to disinfect the carts after every single use, so there are added expenses. You have to find ways to cover that."
Golfers traditionally have paid $32 for a two-person cart rental at Muni going 18 holes -- $16 for each person. The Schenectady City Council on Monday is expected to approve increases that will include a single rider paying $20 for a personal cart -- if he or she is golfing 18.
For people golfing just nine holes, the cart rental price will increase from the usual $9 per person ($18 per twosome) to $12 for a single rider.
The cart fees are charged in addition to greens fees, which vary. Residents, non-residents, seniors, veterans and non-resident, senior-veterans pay different prices to play the course.
The single rider system has meant Daley's 60-cart fleet is always running.
"Being able to provide the number of carts for everybody has been an issue," he said.
There have not been many gripes about the fee increases, he said.
"Most people are all too happy to pay it," Daley said. "They're just happy to get out and play. And then there are, of course, the other people who are going to complain no matter what you do."
The course has been busy, Daley said, especially on nice days. Up to 200 golfers have teed up, swung through and played their balls down fairways.
Daley added that golfers are wearing protective face masks when they check in, and when they're picking up takeout orders from the course restaurant. "When they get on the course, they don't need them," he said.
Daley has noticed some golfers who once drove from drive to drive are opting for more exercise during morning and afternoon outings.
"I'm starting to see that people who used to ride all the time are actually walking now," he said. "Maybe it's a newfound thing, that people are just saying, "I kind of like walking, it's been nice.' So there's been a silver lining to it."
Daley said the fuel-injected engine carts hold about five or six gallons of gas and are re-fueled every week. Each cart has been on the course two, sometimes three times, each day.
"This is only temporary," Daley said of the one-person cart practice. "Once the COVID-19 restrictions ease up, whenever that is, then we'll go back to normal."
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]