During the COVID 19 Crisis, there are few activities we can engage in other than walking, cycling and doing a little yard work. Now the states (mostly in the Northeast) are closing golf courses. Golf is a sport that is played with built-in social distancing. Eliminate the handshake, the drink at the clubhouse and leave all pins in for putting and you eliminate all human contact with any surface. If you must ride in a cart, the ride alone – Courses everywhere are washing and disinfecting all golf carts after use. Golf is said to be “A Good Walk Spoiled” for a good reason, the average golfer walking 18 holes cover 5-6 miles in a round, and even rider chalk up 2-3 miles of exercise and a ton of strengthening motions.
While it makes sense to close social aspects of golf courses such as the clubhouse, the bar, and the locker rooms, it is not necessary to close the golf course for maintenance or play. The decision oftentimes to close golf courses comes from uniformed authorities that have limited knowledge of the game. It would make more sense to close liquor stores with customer’s hands all over the products and state lottery which festers two very serious health and mental health issues. The number of people addicted to alcohol and gambling with full access to both poses a much greater danger than a simple walk on a golf course.
In a letter to Governor office in Massachusetts this week a host of New England Golf organizations appealed for a more common-sense approach to this issue, much like other states across the nation. The golf industry needs to do day to day maintenance on courses, and the golfer should be allowed to play the game with simple restrictive provisions.
In the Letter to the Governor, The Alliance of Golf Organizations said:
“In response to your Executive Order issued on March 23, we are writing to respectfully request clarification for golf course maintenance as an essential and critical business activity. Although golf courses in Massachusetts have temporarily closed retail business operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, basic maintenance on the grounds cannot stop. Maintaining our state’s golf facilities during this critical period of potential business shut down is exactly that, an essential operation for the continued health of our community properties and the current and future health of the golf industry in Massachusetts.
The clubhouse, golf shop and/or restaurant operation is a small part of the overall footprint of a golf course. We believe the field of play, which typically represents over 200 acres of open space land, should be treated differently from the service areas of a golf course operation. The opportunity for socially distant recreation on a golf course is much like taking a walk through one of our wonderful State Parks. Golf course operators all over the country have been taking extra precautions to ensure playing golf is a safe, touchless experience based on an expanding scope of best practices for routine operations that complies with all health advisories and recommendations by our state and local agencies, as well as Centers for Disease Control. Golf facilities are adjusting their food and beverage operations to comply with all suggested and mandated restrictions, such as limiting all business to take-out food service only and/or suspending food service altogether.
If there is to be a mandate to close businesses around the State to avoid the gathering of people and the interaction with surfaces, we respectfully point you to the State of Michigan, where Governor Whitmer recently mandated the closure of many types of businesses but allowed golf courses to keep the fields of play open. In that light, and on behalf of the golf community throughout the Commonwealth, we ask that you similarly exclude the golf course fields of play in any such mandates.
Not only does this make total sense it just quite simply the right thing to do. Get people out in safe wide open naturally social distancing activities and let’s all stay healthy!