There has been a growing call for Governor Charlie Baker to open golf courses, as many claim players can easily socially distance. There has been no comment yet from his office, but Baker has a daily news briefing scheduled for noon at the State House.
State Representatives Michael Soter of Bellingham and Norman Orrall of Lakeville both confirmed the news in Facebook posts Thursday morning, but both said golf courses would reopen Friday.
MassGolf, the state’s golf association, then posted on Twitter, saying courses would be open effective immediately.
Golf is back! Massachusetts golf courses are permitted to open effective immediately.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) May 7, 2020
On their website, MassGolf posted this guidance from the state on how the courses can open for now:
“Golf courses are not essential businesses and cannot have employees working on-premise. Notwithstanding this restriction, essential services, such as groundskeeping to avoid hazardous conditions and security, provided by employees, contractors, or vendors are permitted. Private operator of courses may permit individuals access to the property so long as there are no gatherings of any kind, appropriate social distancing of six feet between individuals is strictly followed, and the business operator and golfers abide by the specific guidelines for golf courses. Municipalities may decide to open municipal courses under these guidelines, if they so choose.”
The news comes as two courses in central Massachusetts, Kettle Brook Golf Club in Paxton and Wachusett Country Club in West Boylston, reportedly told members Wednesday they can start booking tee times for Friday. That’s ten days before May 18, the day the the non-essential business order is set to expire in Massachusetts.
MassGolf provided these specific guidelines for golfers and courses:
• Security personnel can be delineated by each club (ex. A pro and the head starter) and will be present to enforce social distancing. There can be no other employees working at the recreational component of the golf operation.
• All staff must wear face coverings while on property.
• Course facilities including but not limited to the clubhouse, golf shop, restaurant, bag room and locker room must remain closed.
• No caddies allowed.
• No golf carts allowed.
• Push carts may be used. Players must either carry their own bag or use a push cart.
• All golfers must maintain proper social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times.
• Groups of players are restricted to no more than 4 players at one time.
• Members-only clubs can allow guests as determined by the security personnel on the golf course.
• Private clubs that allow non-members to make reservations can do so at their discretion.
• Maintenance personnel are permitted to work on the golf course.
• Tee Time Policy must be 15 minutes between groups.
• Golfers must stay in their car until 15 minutes before their tee time and must return to their car immediately following play.
• Online and remote payment options must be utilized.
• All golfers must use their own golf clubs. Sharing golf clubs or rental golf clubs is not allowed.
• Flagsticks must remain in the hole. Hole liners must be raised so picking a ball out of the hole doesn’t occur.
• Bunker rakes must be removed, and ball washers must be removed or covered.
• Practice putting green, driving range, and chipping areas must be closed.
• Facilities must have readily accessible hand sanitizer.
For more information on golf rules during the coronavirus pandemic, visit the USGA web site.