Golf courses grapple with the decision to stay open or close as COVID-19 safety measures intensify

Government mandates regarding coronavirus have forced some to close, while others stay open under new guidelines for golfer safety.
A gate blocks golfers from playing the Santa Teresa Golf Club in San Jose during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you're able to play golf during these strange days depends almost entirely upon where you live.

Golf courses are becoming the latest domino to fall in the effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, causing temporary closures all around the world. Meanwhile, the courses that are open are operating under a very different set of rules.

Maybe golf isn't the outdoor distraction from the virus that we all had originally hoped? Here's the latest news from a golfers' perspective:

Course closures

While some individual courses and country clubs have closed of their own accord - Augusta National being the most high profile - most of closures have been related to government decisions.

As of press time, The Netherlands had closed all schools, restaurants, cafes and sports clubs, which includes golf, until April 6. The same goes for golf courses, clubhouses and driving ranges in Belgium. As one of the countries most impacted by the virus, Italy has closed "just about everything," according to this report. France is on a 15-day lockdown, meaning people need a permission form just to go outside and leave their homes, according to business insider.

In the United States, we have learned of at least 400 U.S. courses that have closed for COVID-19. Some of the larger pockets of closures are in the Chicagoland area, as well as in New Jersey around New York City and Philadelphia. A handful of casino-affiliated courses, like the Journey at Pechanga in Temecula, Calif., and Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, Md., have also temporarily closed.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has recommended course closures in four counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery. Winter Park, the popular nine-holer outside Orlando, has closed indefinitely. Residents of California's Bay Area - staff writer Jason Scott Deegan included - have been ordered to "shelter in place" for three weeks until April 7. What's ironic is some courses will remain open, although nearby Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz has closed. The municipal courses of Austin, Texas, closed briefly but have reopened with no services. Read the official update here.

Meanwhile, an executive order by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer led to brief confusion that every one of Michigan's 650 courses would close. According to additional reporting by the Detroit News, golf can be played after all, but clubhouse restaurants and bars must close until March 30.

Golf resorts are being impacted as well. The Wynn Las Vegas and MGM - a family of casino resort hotels where golfers must stay to play Shadow Creek - have closed all their hotels nationwide, including Las Vegas. French Lick Resort in southern Indiana has closed its hotels as well, but its Donald Ross and Valley Links courses remain open (the Pete Dye course is scheduled to open at the end of the month).

How to stay safe playing golf

Pandemic or not, many golfers are still playing, at least according to anecdotal evidence. Busy tee sheets were reported over the weekend in Phoenix-Scottsdale. It's also prime time in the Grand Strand and while there have been cancellations, online course booking engines still show plenty of bookings.

If you are lucky enough to be able to play, then you should still take precautions. This varies from course to course. Pine View Golf Course in Ypsilanti, Mich., for example, is only allowing five people in the pro shop at a time. We outlined some tips last week in this article and others have emerged.

Carrying hand sanitizer has become as essential an item in your golf bag as balls and tees. Wiping down carts, or foregoing them altogether and walking, seems like a great idea. So is putting with the flagstick in at all times, keeping contact with the pin to a minimum.

Jason Haines, the superintendent at Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club in British Columbia, Canada, has taken this concept to another level, announcing on Twitter that his staff is elevating the cup, so balls don't drop into the hole. This takes touching and reaching into the cup out of play. "Made" putts will touch the cup and finish within a putter's length. Bunker rakes have also been removed. Golfers are encouraged to "smooth" out the sand with their feet as the rake.

Elevating cups could become a trend during this unique era of golf.

KemperSports, an Illinois-based management company, released a statement that its top officials are meeting daily to keep up with a "fluid" situation.

"We believe that with the right precautions, golf can be a safe activity during this time," CEO Steve Skinner said in the statement. "It enables people to get out and safely exercise in the fresh air, while following recommendations for social distancing."

Galway Bay in Ireland posted precautionary guidelines to their Twitter on Tuesday, which include not using ball washers or touching the flagstick. They are also offering reduced green fees.

How have your rounds of golf changed since the coronavirus pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.


Updated 3/19/20, 09:30 AM: On 3/18, the City of Austin opened their gates to the golf courses for free play with no pins but the clubhouses remain closed.
32 Comments
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Знаете ли вы?
Двое капитанов первого кругосветного плавания были казнены, следующего высадили на необитаемый остров.
В 1941 году в московскую «Писательскую роту» пришли добровольцами бывший вор и следователь ЧК.
Крейсер «Берик» на рейде в Девонпорте
Иракский физрук получил мировую известность под псевдонимом «ангел смерти».
Старейшую в России организацию реставраторов велено было выселить и уплотнить.
[url=http://arbeca.net/]http://arbeca.net/[/url]

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I wish courses, when they use pool noodles around the flagstick, would cut them so that they ended 1/2 to 3/4 inch BELOW the top of the cup. That way the ball would actually fall in the hole, but be easy to flip out with the toe of the putter head without touching the flagstick. It would be way more realistic and would get rid of any judgment calls about whether the ball should be counted as in the hole or not. It would be obvious if the ball is in just like when there are no pool noodles used.

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Hi, here on the forum guys advised a cool Dating site, be sure to register - you will not REGRET it https://bit.ly/3bmdTRH

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Hi, here on the forum guys advised a cool Dating site, be sure to register - you will not REGRET it https://bit.ly/3bmdTRH

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TURF HACKER’S [ a.k.a. HAINES’ ] SNOWFLAKE NONSENSE !

The Chinese Coronavirus pandemic will change the way we look at the game of golf. There are choppy times ahead, but the game of golf is expected to emerge stronger and more appreciated than ever. Playing golf with friends, with its relatively small number of interactions, will be a perfect stepping stone for getting back to regular life. Golf will rise again and will hopefully become an incredible part of our lives. Anyone in the golf industry who cannot project these « positive waves » can be viewed as a snake-in-the-grass betrayer. They spout « negative waves », dispirited snowflake nonsense, against the golf industry.

Turf Hacker [ a.k.a. Jason Haines ] is employed as a golf course superintendent, when, in fact, he operates as a « snowflake-activist-superintendent ». He preaches nonsense doctrines under various guises, such as anti-turfgrass-science deviant, social justice warrior, and environmental activist-fanatжc. And now, he is attempting to advise the golf industry concerning the Chinese Coronavirus.

Many observers believe that « snowflake-activist-superintendents » represent the greatest threats to the golf industry today. These snowflakes are, seemingly, mentally-challenged and incompetent ― they represent NO useful purpose to the golf industry. They cannot be trusted, and DO NOT represent main-stream golf course superintendents. They are bad for the golf industry, and bad for golf business.

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My home course has no tables, chairs. No sale of food, beverage,merchandise. We have member cards we swipe ourselves and swipe our own credit cards, no cash allowed. On-line only tee-times. No loitering in pro-shop or patio. Flag sticks stay in. Foam in cup, so you don't have to reach in. One person per cart (your own car only, no rentals). No rakes in bunkers. And it seems to be working pretty well.

Commented on

This is so reckless!! The courses are staying open for $$$. They are making it more sanitary for the players coming in but not considering the employees being endangered there. My child works at a PGA course in Florida where there was already a cases of Covid by an attendee there. They sent all the PGA employees home and are making the employees still come into work. These employees are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons. Please dear Lord shut them down before some poor family loses a loved one!!!

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Tell them to take the strongest vitamin-mineral capsules they can find. That increases immunity strength A LOT. For example, I use Sprout's Ultimate One as well as magnesium pills, vitamin c pills, vitamin D pills, and hyaluronic acid capsules. The last ones are for joints, but the rest are for general health and immunity strength. I take two sets per day which is twice the usual amount. If those, or a similar combination are taken every day the likelihood of getting sick is extremely low. In a worse case scenario, it would be very mild.

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Golfing is still being around people, going to Club House for drinks!
Spreading the virus! The courses have been crowded. These snobs are selfish individuals that act worse than children. They are playing with innocent peoples lives! The same as the whining vacationers! Smarten up!
You are putting your own at risk too!

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Is play at mini golf courses permitted under covid rules

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Walked by a community course today 3/28 and the place was PACKED....clubhouse stuffed to the gills and sounded like a party coming out of the clubhouse. While I think golfing could be a good outdoor healthy thing to do right now, I don't think congregating inside the clubhouse is very responsible to the people of the community. We have to share the same grocery stores and post offices with these people who aren't prepared to do their part....

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I think I'm pretty safe, unless the woods/trees/water hazards/Out of bounds are also full of people......

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Golf courses grapple with the decision to stay open or close as COVID-19 safety measures intensify