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Record-Setting Spring a Boost for Increasingly Digital-Friendly Braintree Golf Course

A public course, Braintree Municipal Golf Course offers 18 holes of golfing.

Few know the pain of faulty weather forecasting like a golfer – whether that means walking a fairway in the pouring rain or sitting in the office staring out at a beautiful day.

Soon though, as part of an evolving communications strategy by the , local golfers will be able to turn to Twitter to see how the skies are behaving above the town's 18 holes.

That social media effort, along with the possibility of a future mobile app, will join the golf course's current digital lineup, which includes a Facebook page, increasing numbers of online reservations – 80 percent of tee times are now booked through the course's website, double last year's rate – along with the development of its own QR code, a quickly-expanding digital advertising tool.

"We have a great location," Director of Golf Operations Daryn Brown said during a recent interview, noting that the course has no problem staying busy on sunny days. "We're utilizing the web for free advertising."

The combination of clear weather to start this season and Braintree Municipal being in what Brown describes as a sweet-spot between high-end and mom-and-pop places – both hit harder by the recent economic downturn than public courses – has kept the enterprise account on solid financial ground heading into the busiest months of 2012.

"Despite the economy, municipal golf is not recession-proof, but it is recession-resistant," Brown said.

After heavy rains produced a $65,000 loss in October, an unusually warm and dry spring has been record-setting, earning the course $76,000 more in March and April than during those periods in 2011.

The course has no debt, and the mayor's office projects revenues for the town – transferred from the course's enterprise fund – of $56,390 in fiscal year 2013, up from $41,032 during the current year.

Overall, the course's budget is expected to grow from the $1.35 million proposed at the start of the current year to $1.39 million for the year starting July 1.

Because fees and permit prices remain low compared to other courses on the South Shore, the spring burst demonstrated a remarkable surge in rounds played. In 2011, 3,500 rounds were played in March and April, compared to 6,700 this year. 

"It was not a soft opening," Brown said. "It was all hands trying to get the golf course open. It was a scramble."

Part of the rush for course employees involved cleaning up from last year's Hurricane Irene, whose winds cut through the area, felling dozens of trees, many of them decades old. Some 80-year-old oak trees had to be taken down after the storm shattered their tops, and a half-dozen willow trees were also claimed by the wind and rain. 

"We were dropping trees across fairways all winter long," Brown said.

But the course got up to speed quickly, and has already sold out two rounds of Night Golf, nine-hole shotgun-style tournaments each with about 80 golfers hitting LED golf balls among hundreds of glow sticks. Brown said he may schedule another night event in June and likely two more in the fall.

Additional events this season could include a one-club tournament in which members of a foursome pick one club to use each, along with a scramble called "Greenskeeper Revenge," done before about 12 years ago. It would feature obstacles like a cup on the side of a hill, tractors and mowers to hit under and a two-hole combination amounting to something like a par-12.

Brown's long-term goal is to make Braintree Municipal a year-round destination for all kinds of activities. The course is prepared during the winter now for an ice rink and, of course, sledding, plus Brown would like to see more cross-county ski trails, even fishing.

"People are always looking for low-cost entertainment," he said.

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