Golf courses should be reopened and kept open

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There are scores of coronavirus uncertainties.

Here is one guarantee: Golf courses are healthier places to be than grocery stores.

Here is another: They are less stressful, too.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties – Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in population and in coronavirus cases in Florida – have ordered golf courses closed. Martin and St. Lucie counties have not.

Even the most recent statewide order from Gov. Ron DeSantis does not prohibit golf from being played. The Florida Times-Union/Jacksonville.com reported that “the North Florida PGA Section obtained the clarification from the Governor’s office with the requirement that all courses must either allow golfers the option of walking, or have one person per electric or gas-powered cart, with no exceptions.”

As of March 27, none of Florida’s other most populous counties – Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas and Duval – had closed their courses, though some facilities such as Innisbrook in Pinellas’ Palm Harbor have voluntarily closed.

A quick spin around, with a look at the smart things courses are doing to be responsible. Things that can be done in all of South Florida. Course operators and golfers just need the chance, as long as people are permitted out of their houses for individual activities.

Duval County

Cimarrone Golf Club

Coronavirus changes: No water stations on the course, no ball washers, no rakes.

From the pro shop: “We’re so busy.”

TPC Sawgrass

Coronavirus changes: As much as possible, single per cart, pool noodles in the hole to keep the ball from going all the way down. No rakes. Inside and out, extra attention to hand cleanliness, with stations for sanitizer.

From the pro shop: “We’ve been quite busy, especially the Valley Course but even the Stadium Course. People have been asking if we have any specials – we don’t need a special right now.”

Orange County

Dubsdread

Coronavirus changes: Everyone is taking their own carts, which are sanitized before and after rounds, tee times limited, no one can touch the flagstick – they will be asked to leave if they do. Using a different type of cup that does not allow the ball to fall all the way down.

From the pro shop: “We’re still staying very busy. We’d obviously be busier if we could book every tee time, but safety comes first.”

Shingle Creek

Coronavirus changes: Rakes and coolers off the course, PVC in the cups to keep the ball near the surface.

From the pro shop: “We’re open but have discounted rates for Florida resident and non-resident.”

Hillsborough County

Bloomingdale Golfers Club

Coronavirus changes: Allowing only two people at a time in the pro shop. One person per cart starting Saturday. Allowing walkers. Every other tee time is going to be blocked out. No rakes, no coolers. No one can touch the flag. Even on the practice facility there are no flags.

From the pro shop: “Business has been really good since this all started. We’re staying open until they change the policy.”

TPC Tampa Bay

Coronavirus changes: Single carts when asked. Water coolers and rakes removed, increased self-service such as members and guests loading their own cars.

From the pro shop: “The ‘safer at home’ order is allowing us to stay open. Business has been steady, been good.”

Pinellas County

Bardmoor Golf Course

Coronavirus changes: Golfers can take their own cart, all carts are sterilized, no water on the course, no rakes.

From the pro shop: “Business is good right now.”

Dunedin Golf Club

Coronavirus changes: Walking rate for the first time. Family members get a discounted rate if they ride in the same cart. Cups have been flipped upside down so on a made putt half the ball is exposed, a trick they picked up from Innisbrook.

From the pro shop: “We are absolutely packed. Monday things really drop off as the Northerners start heading back.”

Vinoy Golf Club

Coronavirus changes: Stopped all towel service, removed coolers and sand buckets, removed rakes and ball washers, carts being sanitized in the morning and every time they come off the course. Sanitizing range balls, allowing walking all day, have put pool noodles in the holes to make made putts accessible. No check-in in the pro shop.

From the pro shop: “We are doing more rounds of golf right now than we historically ever have. Most of our members are younger, home with the kids all day. I’m sold out until 5:16.”

 

 

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