!!!!DISCLAIMER!!!! This site may contain Amazon & other affiliate links.
This means if you click on one of the product recommendation links, this site may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and may include exclusive discounts when possible. This helps support this site and allows us to keep making content like this. Thank you for your support!
Local golf courses reopen, with limits, as COVID-19 restrictions loosen. Amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, many golf courses were closed. As that outbreak subsides, some golf courses have begun to reopen. Most of these courses are those that did not have contact with infected persons or visitors.
Are ALL golf courses reopening?
Those courses known to have had contact with infected persons or visitors will remain closed for the time being, though they may reopen after required maintenance.
“Maintenance” in this case refers to decontamination of the facilities and grounds by certified personnel. Golfers are strongly advised to wear biohazard hazmat suits while playing at these places, as it is expected that they carry high levels of COVID-19 virus.
Course closures and reopenings have been a constant source of distress for the golfing community, which has been forced to change locations frequently. Some courses have shut down permanently due to loss of visitors and players.
The golfing community is hopeful that the reopening of some courses will lead to a widespread resurgence in golfing popularity. “People really missed getting out on the course,” said PGA president Gordon Grange.
“We hope that with a few more courses open people will be able to enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about what might be lurking in it.”
Officials have decided not to allow public golf carts at those facilities open for public play at this time. It is expected that carts may be allowed on a case-by-case basis if the course management can provide sufficient proof that they have been decontaminated.
Other precautions include restricting play to 18 holes per round to prevent exposure to the many hazards outside of fairways and greens. Some courses will still maintain their original 72-hole par for the day to reflect the limits of time imposed by COVID-19 restrictions.
Golf Course Opening & Special Considerations
Many golf courses are celebrating their reopening with special activities and tournaments, such as special events on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day; “drive once” events where players drive once off the tee and do not putt; and low price specials.
Special considerations are being made for golf courses that have been identified in areas where residents have been prevented from leaving their homes by COVID-19.
In these areas, free emergency golf permits will be available to residents allowing them to enjoy play at nearby courses; some courses have opted to open exclusively for emergency permit holders. Community and school groups are also allowed free play on the same terms.
It is hoped that this initiative will provide a safe way of getting fresh air and exercise during the period of COVID-19 restrictions.
USGA Covid-19 Efforts
The USGA is encouraging all golf courses to find ways to get more people out on the course; they are offering a series of town hall meetings across the country in June. These meetings will be used as opportunities for local citizens to express their concerns about COVID-19 and its effects on their lives.
Part of the USGA’s initiative includes working with PGA of America toward finding ways to integrate play into the everyday routines of Americans and towards creating a network of golf courses that would allow residents to drive or take public transportation directly from home to play. Local leaders have also expressed interest in using golf courses as locations for community events.
The USGA is also working with the United Nations to allow recreational travel to all countries that have golf courses. To date, only a few countries have reciprocity; this movement appears to be in part an attempt by the USGA to ease tensions between the USA and other countries.
Golf Course COVID Guidelines
All golf courses have been required to adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to covenants, indemnity, and limitations of liability (CIL) in order to comply with the COVID outbreak.
No course may deny entry or service based on a person’s “death wish” status; regardless of patients’ levels of risk factors and exposure history, every individual is entitled to the same share of safety and security as everyone else. The USGA has offered all courses free legal advice whenever they are encountered with an issue regarding this topic.
The PGA of America is also working with the USGA to create a certificate of immunization that golfers can present to courses, allowing them entry to play. It is expected that these certificates will be valid for one month and will be issued at local health clinics.
Unfortunately, this means that golfers who contract COVID-19 while on the course will not be able to play under this policy.
Golf Course Liability & Insurance Obligations
Golf courses are not only faced with reopening their facilities in the midst of a nationwide epidemic; they are also confronted by increasing calls for compensation over injuries related to COVID-19. I
n addition, many golf courses are faced with increased insurance premiums as risk-averse insurers raise rates based on COVID-19.
On the other hand, homeowners’ insurance companies have freed golf courses from their liability for accidents and injuries caused by COVID-19. This is due to the fact that public health experts believe that it is not possible to contract the virus while on a golf course, as opposed to when doing everyday activities such as eating or drinking.
Overcrowding On Golf Courses
Overcrowding has become an issue on most of the reopened golf courses; players must wait for hours in line for a tee time and must share carts and tees with other players. In addition, some courses have suffered damage to their greens as a result of reckless players.
Golf Course Security Measures
Golf courses have taken extra measures to enhance security following the outbreak; most golfers are required to bag sand and clean the tees after each shot. Visitors are required to leave their bags in an area monitored by security personnel, where they receive a pass before entering the course’s facilities.
Passes are checked frequently by security staff throughout playtime for signs of tampering. In addition, owners and staff have requested that patrons refrain from sharing food and drink with others. The safety and well-being of golf course visitors are paramount in golf industry efforts during this crisis.
How To Golf Safely During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Golfers are encouraged to practice good hand-washing and sanitary practices while on the course. Golf courses are doing their part by limiting the number of crowds on each course, as well as providing sand for golfers to clean the tees after playing.
Golfers should also be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities or objects they observe.
Here are some COVID-19 guidelines to remember when you’re at the golf course:
- People wanting to play golf should only visit a golf course after all the staff has cleaned the facilities. The maintenance staff is responsible for checking every green and putting surface on golf courses during playtime.
- Avoid sharing your golf balls and tees.
- Ask for a new set of tees at the beginning of each round, and only use one or two tees when you play. Use a fresh tee for each hole. This will help ensure that there isn’t any build-up of COVID-19 on the tee.
- Limit hand contact with your mouth/eyes/nose.
- Before you play, make sure that you wash your hands with hot, soapy water and dry them thoroughly. Bring hand sanitizer to use after playing.
- Golfers are urged to wash their hands frequently while on the course; a hand sanitizer is available at most courses.
- If someone sneezes, golfers should step away from the person and avoid direct contact with them. If possible, change your club and move to a different part of the course. Staff should be notified to quarantine that section of the course for 24 hours.
- If an object looks suspicious or someone acting suspiciously is observed on the course, dial 911 immediately.
How To Interact With Other Golfers During The Covid-19 Pandemic
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, courses have limited the number of players on each hole. Golfers are encouraged to interact with other golfers as little as possible and to play quickly to keep lines down.
Avoiding contact with others is key; golf courses are asking that individuals use their own bags, tees, and clubs instead of sharing them.
Current CDC health guidelines regarding the use of masks, six feet of social distancing between individuals, and the limit of groups to 10 people or fewer, still must be followed.
Golf Courses Encouraged to Reactivate Patrons
Golf course owners are being asked by local officials to reactivate their memberships and patrons in order to bolster business during this time of crisis. Local hospitals and civic leaders have asked courses to allow members of nearby neighborhoods to play free in exchange for their services during clean-up efforts.
Course owners are advised to place a “no entry” sign outside of their facilities during playtime; if the course is open, they should prominently display an “open for business” sign inside.
In order to alert golfers as to whether or not a course is open, PGA officials have created a simple system of signage; an “X” on the sign signifies that it is closed, while an “O” means it is open.
So if you can’t wait to hit the greens with your golf buddies, make sure to observe a few simple precautions:
- Make sure the facility is open before you arrive by checking its online calendar or calling the pro shop.
- If a course is closed, don’t enter the premises; they may have been quarantined for cleaning or repair.
The course pro shop and locker room staff are sometimes exposed to individuals with COVID-19. Golfers should be aware of this fact and should avoid any unnecessary contact with them.
Wearing a face mask will help reduce the chance of infection when golfers are out on the course during playtime. Play safe!