2020 was a bizarre year for society in general. So it’s no surprise that 2020 was a bizarre year for the game of golf in Northern Ohio, too.
The season began with everyone facing of COVID concerns. Fear of an unknown virus led state and local governments to issue a series of best-guess directives, including one by the Ohio Department of Health that for a short time banned golf.
The vast majority of the most-read 2020 stories from this website were about the COVID craziness that began the season. But there were other stories that earned many eyeballs — including the year’s top story on a completely different subject.
The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 10th top stories of 2020 related to the COVID shutdown, opening, re-shutdown then re-opening of Ohio’s golf courses.
21,850 readers visited the March 23rd story we broke when Governor DeWine’s office finally replied to our many inquiries, entitled GOLF COURSES MAY REMAIN OPEN DURING COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.
A few days after that story appeared, we posted the cautionary tale, GOLFERS, COURSES MUST PLAY IT SMART NOW. It ended up with the fifth most readers of any story in 2020.
But then another few days after that, an attorney from the Ohio Department of Health contradicted the Governor, telling local health departments on a conference call that they should close golf courses. Obviously, bedlam ensued. After a flurry of emails to both the ODH and the press liaison in the Governor’s office, we finally received confirmation that the ODH attorney misspoke and that golf courses were indeed to be opened. Those words led to our March 29th story on the “second re-opening”, OHIO DEPT OF HEALTH CHANGES RULING: COURSES MAY REMAIN OPEN. That story garnered the third largest number of 2020 readers.
The above stories were all led off by DEWINE SHUTDOWN ORDER UNCLEAR FOR GOLF COURSES (8th most read), were mixed together with BAD NEWS COMING TO GOLF COURSES FROM COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS? (10th), and finalized with OHIO GOVERNOR MAKES NEW COVID-19 MANDATES FOR GOLF (7th).
Golf course owners followed the myriad and ever-changing COVID rules well. In response, it seems as if God provided the incredibly beautiful weather we had all summer and fall, giving the industry one of its most financially-lucrative seasons in 25 years.
Some crazy stuff.
Other Big 2020 Stories
A couple of other wild stories from 2020 gained large reader interest.
The wildest may have been A PLAYER’S LIFE WAS SAVED AT ZOAR, when local amateur star Brian Smith helped to save the life of another golfer, 25-year old Shawn Mills, after a medical emergency during a tournament at Zoar Golf Club. That story had a happy ending and earned the fourth most readers in 2020.
A different type of story, an editorial, nabbed the sixth position, titled UNACCEPTABLE. Some signs were damaged in anger by a player at a NOGA event, so the story sought to provide some perspective on what golf is and should be.
The Biggest Story of 2020
But the biggest story of the year announced a big project that is currently on hold — due to COVID, of course.
27,140 readers checked in on the big announcement FIRESTONE 9 RANGE TO CLOSE; BIGSHOTS GOLF TO LAUNCH. We broke this story after confirming from sources that Club Corporation planned to begin construction some time in early 2020 on a Topgolf / Drive Shack competitor called BigShots Golf. The facility is to be built adjacent to Firestone Country Club at the Firestone 9 Public Course in Akron, replacing the existing driving range and Hacker’s restaurant facilities there.
We’ll check back in on that story in 2021, or whenever that construction actually begins.
Thank You for 2020
We thank all of our readers for visiting the website and reading these top 2020 stories. We reached new visitor total records again in 2020, and have big hopes for 2021.
We especially thank the readers who tell their friends about our website, who join our email newsletter, or who follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Word-of-mouth and likes/follows/links are the way we continue to grow!