Careless golfers confronted by police at golf courses during the coronavirus epidemic

Incidents spring up in Connecticut, Massachusetts and England.
Golfers practice social distancing at Windsor Parke Golf Club amid the Coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

One of the great benefits of golf is its wholesomeness. It instills values like integrity, perseverance and adherence to broadly agreed-upon rules and points of etiquette. It could be said that spending time on the golf course is worthwhile because it’s time spent not getting into trouble.

Except that the coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down, at least in some locales. In cities, counties, states and countries where officials have demanded social distancing measures or the outright closure of golf courses, disobedient duffers have forced the law to get involved.

Connecticut is a state that has permitted golf operations so long as social distancing guidelines are followed. But at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck, a group of golfers flouting social distancing guidelines drew the ire of a passerby, who drove through the parking lot of the course and took a video on her smartphone. Naugatuck mayor Pete Hess took swift action, ordering the course closed indefinitely.


In Pennsylvania, a group of members of Royal Manchester Golf Links were shooed away by police from the closed course, despite their protestations that they were paying members of the club. The state was one of the first states to order a statewide suspension of golf operations.

A similar scene played out at semi-private Tekoa Country Club in Massachusetts, another of several states where stay-at-home orders have dictated that courses remain closed for the time being. Westfield police had to disperse groups of golfers there, while mild weather last Friday lured golfers out to several other closed courses in the Bay State.

In the United Kingdom, where virtually all golf courses have ceased operations following a March 24 order, the birthplace of the game, stir-crazy would-be golfers were turned away from the municipal Stony Holme Golf Course by local police as well.

With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread and having recently surpassed 1 million confirmed cases worldwide, it becomes all the more important to continue to practice social distancing, which knowledgeable health officials agree is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Golf course operators know how high the stakes are, and are earning the respect of their customers for the protective measures they have taken.

One of golf's unique advantages over other recreational activities is that it is well-suited to physical distancing. Thankfully, most golfers currently playing are taking the proper precautions. If you're planning to play soon, make sure you do your part.

March 25, 2020
View the latest news and golf course industry data on the impact of COVID-19 and coronavirus around the U.S. and globally.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
150 Comments
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Commented on

Here in Georgia our courses are open. It's not a difficult thing to maintain social distancing so I for one wouldn't do anything that would jeopardize mine or anyone else's ability to continue playing.

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Commented on

If you are caught golfing in NY right now, what is the penalty? Someone told me it is only a $50 fee so people are continuing to golf “all over the place“ up there. Is this true? Are police checking on country clubs to make sure they are adhering to the order?

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Commented on

In my own way I understand the stress and frustration everyone worldwide is going through. I have been playing some golf with the current restrictions that have been enacted. Unfortunately not everyone follows safety rules and laws that are in place to help protect us. That being said, I noticed in the video Ms Becker was shooting her video while she was driving her vehicle thru the parking lot and the news 8 reporter standing at arms reach with the microphone in hand while interviewing Mayor Hess and the Police Chief. This video was to bring attention to the fact that some people don't follow safety rules and laws; well it did just that for me.

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Commented on

Golf courses should be open for play, walking and keeping your distance is not only healthy but beneficial to life and economy, those in violation should be removed ....DO NOT SPOIL it for those who like to PLAY ALONE regardless

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Commented on

While I am enjoying a round or 2 each week, walking on my own, with a soap and water towel mixture and hand sanitizer, it is not a right. It is a pleasure. The obviously conservative biased comments about China and rights and freedom are selfish and very narrow minded thinking. If you don’t think the virus is bad, look around outside your gates club community. Or soon you will be able to look inside your gated community and see the results of risky and entitled behavior. Keep playing if you can, remember it is a privilege not a right. And for God sakes you people in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana et al, stay the F@#$$ away from church.

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Commented on

At least in NSW in Australia the golf courses are open providing you maintain social distancing of 1.5 meters between golfers and only play as a twosome, no riding in the same cart!

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Commented on

Our golf course in Melbourne Australia has been closed because of the compleat shutdown of the state. Shame on all you golfers who did not practice social distancing

Ian( Melbourne Australia)

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Commented on

61 deaths out of 27,000,000 people? I guess Australians aren't as tough as they used to be. Maybe being pissed would be an appropriate response instead of buying into all the fear and then shaming people.

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Commented on

Australians are smarter and tougher than Americans. Hence why they're not being wiped out by the virus. It's got to the point where Australia have states with consecutive days of no detected infections and they're able to start releasing the strictest conditions they imposed. Compare and contrast with the geniuses in America protesting and not socially distancing, screwing it up for the people doing the right thing, and potentially extending the lockdowns. I'm glad I live in Maryland.

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Commented on

John...I get you're just a clueless liberal as the wool is being pulled over your eyes.

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So happy I live in Idaho, a red state! While we have had 10 deaths in a state of 1.8 million, and the governor issued a stay-at-home order a couple weeks ago, he made exceptions for outdoor recreation, and golf courses are open (with many precautions in place). While police are watching golf courses in blue states and arresting a lone SUP boarder in Malibu, KKKalifornia, etc. fortunately we have not passed the thin line between common sense and hysteria. When I go to the large park near my house to chip golf balls, I am not in fear of being issued a citation or being arrested.

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Commented on

Joe, we are all glad you live in Idaho too. Stay there.

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Commented on

Hey Joe, my cousin and 7 of his buddies played 3 weeks ago. All 8 got the virus and one is dead, is it worth it?

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hey Mike , which state and course was this at ? Did they play within the rules of social distancing ?

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Your just not getting it!!! They played in two separate groups. Nobody had symptoms beforehand. Someone in the group or several in the group touched something or got too close to someone and got it from them. The course was a distance form home so they drove in two cars. What difference what state they were in. I have seen several videos of golfers congregating and not practicing social distancing. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR LOVED ONES AND COMMUNITY TO LIMIT EXPOSURE. Suck it up for a couple of months, golfing is not worth your mothers life. Look, I am a golf course manager and avid golfer, my livelihood is suffering here but we must do what we must do.

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Commented on

Mike, you’re a liar and an idiot.

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Commented on

Wow John, the question of weather I am an idiot or not has been debated for a long time. However I have not lied about ONE thing I have stated. I am not a liar, you are just uninformed.

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Commented on

I'm in the UK and a member of a private golf club. It is rightly closed for a number of reasons:- firstly, in order to keep a golf course in a playable condition you need a full compliment of greenkeepers to go to work every day and practice social distancing at all times. That's not very practicable and why would you put them in any danger? They have families also. secondly the clubhouses are closed for the obvious reasons that it keeps clubhouse staff safe and it prevents golfers congregating in a confined space. Thirdly, if there are no clubhouse staff, there is no one to call in the event of any accidents. The risk is not acceptable. And much as I love our game, it is not essential. Stay at home and protect your medical staff who are either under intense pressure or will be very soon.

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Hi Vince,

Until it's deemed unsafe to go outside, walking a golf course is as safe or safer than

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the maintenance must be done or you will just have hay

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When you are ready to play, after this virus is under control, the greenkeepers are keeping the course maintenance up so there aren't 3 foot high weeds. The course needs constant care all year long so it is ready for golfers.

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Commented on

In what type of society does government have the authority to restrict its citizens from using their privately owned property? Answer: Communist China! Live free or die. Live free and die. Either way, live free!

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Commented on

Or America. It’s called imminent domain and it occurs to this day. Try reading.

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"Imminent", you say...hmmmm? I guess it's gonna happen soon...imminently, perhaps?

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...or die free....you MORON

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Commented on

Moron??? Calm down, snow flake! Mommy will have your bottle ready soon. Then, you can suck on it...under her supervision, of course. Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself...

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Commented on

LIVE...... yet we are forced to survive in this hysteria

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Commented on

The good ole' USA for one - just ask all the private landowners along the US-Mexico border who've had their PRIVATE land taken to satisfy some egomaniac's campaign promise to build a multi-$B Red "White Elephant" to theoretically keep out all the "criminals etc." who work on his golf courses and clean his gold loo.

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Commented on

Apples and oranges... When Government "takes" land for a public project, the owner is fairly compensated. In this case, the club's members are being deprived use rights without receiving any compensation.

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Commented on

LMAO - right....

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Commented on

em·i·nent do·main
nounLAW
the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation

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Commented on

First, ED and due process has not been carried through the courts in most cases along the border - go ask the owners, irrespective of political persuasion. There has not been adequate time as most ED cases take years, if not decades.
Second, to follow your line of reasoning, the government is expropriating the golf club/course for public health and safety and your personal payment is your safety and health. Moreover, since the value of your health to you in relation to what the public is receiving is disproportionate, (it is probably priceless in most individual's eyes), you are receiving in excess of what the public is receiving. Given this, are you considering making a donation to the public good in some other fashion??

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Commented on

The "Public Good"???? Now, I am LMFAO at you. The "Public Good" myth was created by ruling elite to make powerless people feel like they are stakeholders in a decision making process...and responsible for outcomes that are, in reality, way beyond their effective control. The only real "good" is what is good for each individual and, for the most part, those decisions are within each individual's manageable interest. So, I will take care of myself...playing golf where and when I choose to... and you can use the personal liberty you have remaining to take care of yourself. I am not your keeper. As I said, live free or die. Live free and die. What ever... but, live freely!

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Commented on

I agree that you have the right to risk your own life. But the lives of others. I would love to be golfing right now, but I choose not to risk the lives of my family and friends.

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Commented on

Just undermined your own argument of public use/good for ED...
Please, laugh at your self as I'm LMAO still!

Commented on

Folks who don't golf are just jealous.

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Careless golfers confronted by police at golf courses during the coronavirus epidemic