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Golf courses taking smart (and creative) measures to combat the coronavirus

March 17, 2020

Nearly every corner of the global economy is impacted by the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. While the virus is bad news for most business owners, the golf economy — at least at those courses that are staying open — is chugging along as people look for ways to practice “social distancing” outdoors.

Golf is one of the few sports you can still participate in safely, but it’s equally critical for courses and players to practice caution before, during and after rounds are played. As a result, many courses are stepping up their vigilance in order to combat the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus. Here’s what some courses around the world are doing to protect players:

Richter Park GC (Danbury, Conn.) — Richter Park GC is experimenting with a smart new tactic to keep golfers from touching the bottom of the cup. Here’s what my colleague Luke Kerr-Dineen said about Richter Park’s plan: “Cut the holes, but instead of planting the hole all the way into the ground, leave the cup about one inch above the surface. If your ball hits the cup, it’s considered holed. It’s much safer and has the added benefit of avoiding lip-outs.”

Nine Springs Golf Course (Fitchburg, Wis.) — Nine Springs Golf Course now has an “honor box” system, according to local television affiliate WKOW. Rather than have personnel accept cash for tee times (and risk spreading germs), golfers are encouraged to leave the $10 greens fee in a box outside the entrance to the course.

Eisenhower Park municipal golf course (Westbury, N.Y.) — From my story yesterday, “A large dispenser of Purell sits prominently in the pro shop, awaiting golfers who pay for their tee times. The doors to most of the golf facilities are dead-bolted open, requiring only a bump with one’s shoulder or elbow to step through. Bright-colored containers of Clorox wipes are strewn across the cart barn. Every cart is wiped down upon return.”

Sandia Golf Club, Paradise Hills Golf Course, Santa Ana Golf Club (Albuquerque, N.M.) — Golf courses throughout Albuquerque are seeing a huge uptick in play and in response are regularly sanitizing some of the heavily touched areas on the course. According to the Albuquerque Journal, courses are sanitizing carts and steering wheels, while seating at some course restaurants is restricted to six or fewer.

Los Angeles municipal golf courses (Los Angeles, Calif.) — In California, the Los Angeles Times reports that all 12 of the city’s municipal courses will remain open, but “workers are installing 6-foot barriers to minimize contact.”

Kanturk Golf Club, Kanturk, Ireland — Kanturk released the following statement on its Twitter account, urging golfers to leave the pin in the hole or grab it with a golf glove on to prevent the spread of germs.

“Covid 19 update. While on the course, we are asking all members and visitors to practice the following:

Social Distancing (2 metres)
When signing in to competition book, use your own pen/pencil.
Do not exchange scorecards, tees, balls, ball markers etc.
Always leave the pin in and do not touch it
No handshakes
All bunkers are closed for play, nearest point of relief not nearer the hole
Remove the ball from hole with golf glove on
The cleaning airhoses will not be available for use
Please wash your hands before and after round”

Keep checking back — we’ll continue to update this list as we learn more from courses around the globe.

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