What’s Social Distancing?

Playing golf during coronavirus pandemic might be challenging. The Center for Disease Control defines Social Distancing as “keeping distance between yourself and others outside your dwelling.” Three specific guidelines are attached: maintaining at least six feet between you and others, avoiding gathering in big groups with acquaintances and friends, and avoiding “mass parties.”

State and local governments have widely accepted these recommendations, but their responses have varied. A growing number of counties have inflicted temporary shelter-in-place laws, directing all “non -essential” companies to temporarily halt operations. Citizens have been instructed not to go outside their homes except to purchase goods or to find periodic exercise while observing social distancing practices. Then other places have started opening back up with new restrictions and guidelines.

In terms of things, you should not do it? Here is a quick rundown of safety guidelines for operators and golfers in this time of increased risk.

1. Don’t Share Carts

Reducing the use or sharing of golf carts during coronavirus.  Renting carts to a single person or only to multiple people from the same household has become a standard precaution many golf courses are taking. However, if you desire or need to have a cart, be sure you wipe it down thoroughly and take it by yourself, so you are not near other people.

2. Do Not Remove The Pin

Many courses advise only touching the pin if you’re wearing gloves. However, many others recommend not touching the pin at all. Better safe than regret; go with the latter do not touch other people’s pin.

3. Don’t Borrow Clubs

Do not borrow your friend’s golf clubs on the golf course.  Now’s not the right time. At mini-golf courses use sanitizing wipes and wash hands afterward. You might choose to wear a mask so that you don’t touch your face.

4. Don’t Borrow Accessories

Clubs are the most prominent one, but it goes for other golf accessories, too. Towels, ball markers, tees, balls. If they’re not yours, don’t touch them and don’t borrow accessories while playing golf during the coronavirus time period.

5. Don’t Toss Your Partner Their Ball

Gimmies for short-range putts are advised, but if your putt is considered ‘good,’ pick up your ball. Don’t throw your partner their ball.

6. Don’t Throw Your Partner Their Ball Marker

Ditto the above.

7. Don’t Exchange Cash

With a caddie, with your playing partner, no one. Try Venmo or Zelle! It’s a lot more convenient. Prepay over the telephone or online using a debit or charge card.

8. Don’t Shake Hands

This is rule No. 1 today! Try a friendly wave instead! Suspend tradition. The post-round handshake is sacrosanct in golf—except in times of disease spreading. Tap putter heads, do an air-five or bow to thank and acknowledge anyone you’ve played with but avoid the skin-to-skin contact.

9. Don’t Reach In The Golf Hole

Most golf courses are currently modifying their golf holes to eradicate this issue. If you are playing one that hasn’t altered its holes, don’t reach into the golf hole to get your ball. Either leave it there or catch it up before it drops.

10. Play Away, Please

Keep at least a buffer six-foot from anyone on your golf team or group. Walk any round you can. If you have to ride, take your cart whenever possible, or at least be sure to talk about renting a cart just with someone you live with.

11. Respect The Rules Of The Facility

Must implement the park and play rules. Golf courses that have stayed open during the coronavirus outbreak are working hard to reduce contact points from arrival to departure and sanitize surfaces. You must honor that work by respecting the constraints on the standard golf experience. Leave flagsticks in when you putt and take your ball from the cup if your course is putting foam or plastic in the cups to make balls rest higher up than usual.

12. Don’t Linger

Once your round is over, go home. While course cafeterias are closed, some golfers have been gathering in the parking lot after their shots. One of those tailgates led to a Connecticut course being closed when a citizen sees golfers standing close to each other and then complained to the mayor’s office about the breach of the rules.

You don’t want to be the golfer who spoiled the game for everyone else. Golf courses are under pressure to restrict the flow of players daily in the name of social distancing. Encourage them to stick to the guidelines they have been given.

13. Play Healthy

If you have the slightest perception of illness, stay home. If you plan to be obedient with social distancing guidelines, don’t risk exposing fellow golfers if you are feeling ill all.

Golf Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic

The question of the exercise and recreation is where golf has come to occupy a place in society. In summary, whether golf is “essential” has been determined by state governments, with varying results.

For instance, authorities in the states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, a dozen states have decreed that golf courses should be closed following a stay at home order. But in Florida, a similar sequence is set up. However, Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t specially ordered golf courses closed. Yet, municipalities such as Palm Beach County, where coronavirus instances are more prevalent than in other areas, have arranged courses within their borders closed for now.

New York has arguably been affected the most by the coronavirus crises. Given the high number of COVID cases and the death toll, an obligatory shut-down of the state’s courses on April 9 wasn’t all that surprising.

According to the National Golf Foundation, 48 percent of golf courses are still allowing play throughout the country (as of April 13). That is a four percent increase from the report of the prior week.

What states are yet allowing golf and what states aren’t is still a regular question, but it’s also a changing one. Different states have to deal with different risk factors. For example, a Florida population that skews much larger in age than most other states — and have approached the subject differently. (In Florida, incidentally, golf remains an acceptable action despite state stay-at-home orders)

Some players have learned that an effort to sneak around the rules can carry significant consequences. Three Massachusetts guys who played with golf in Rhode Island were charged with violating a Rhode Island executive order that required out-of-state residents if visiting the state to self-quarantine for purposes not related to work.

It often falls to specific states’ governing bodies of golf to solicit clarification and lobby for the business to remain open, albeit with safety measures – such as social distancing. Some states started to tackle the problem nearly a month ago.

When Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a stay-at-home command on March 24, the Michigan Golf Alliance directly sought clarification on what is intended for golf. The MGA has proceeded to lobby on the golf industry’s behalf.

Anticipating a similar executive order could come down in Ohio, golf industry managers took the wise step of sending a letter to Governor Mike DeWine describing their case as a $2 billion business.

The Golf Course Superintendent Association of America has evolved as a key for golf courses, giving everything from minimum maintenance guidance to employee communication templates to town hall meetings.

One of the most essential GCSAA sources for individual golfers is a database, updated regularly, of how executive orders in different states address golf, and what other local limitations might exist for both play and maintenance. In listing the information, the GCSAA makes obvious that its state-by-state list neither constitutes legal advice nor acts as a copy for each state’s official information. Instead, the list is intended for informational purposes.

According to the GCSAA database, 16 states, including New York, have prohibited golf by executive order. Those are:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Maine
  4. Maryland
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Michigan
  7. Minnesota
  8. Nevada
  9. New Hampshire
  10. New Jersey
  11. New Mexico
  12. New York
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Vermont
  15. Washington
  16. Wisconsin

Alaska is listed as “pending” because its season is still approaching. While Oahu, Kaui, and Mau classes are closed for play, Hawaii, meanwhile, is split on the issue, with courses on the Big Island remaining open.

If golf is not prohibited in a state by the governor’s executive order may be barred from their course by city or county ordinance. Colorado is one such outlier. The list of GCSAA shows Colorado courses as being available but with the final decision left to the health department of each county.

California citizens are directed to contact their county or city for instruction, with the enclosing five San Francisco Bay area counties reportedly forbidding playing golf during coronavirus until May 3.

County and city limitations may apply in Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.

In Myrtle Beach Mecca, golf play is limited to residents only. Stay-at-home orders are anticipated in Atlanta and Savannah in the coming days.

Maintenance can be crucial as many middle and northern courses prepare for the golf course opening. The GCSAA is conducting research on this level. The present updates demonstrate that all states are allowing maintenance to take place. GCSAA lists Michigan as impending, with this explanation: “Courses are still doing minimal standard maintenance, awaiting clarification from the governor’s office. Have been advised to contact local police offices to work together on legal practices and personnel.”

The GCSAA also notes that town boards of health may restrict maintenance in Massachusetts.

One governor, the Steve Sisolak of Nevada, declared that he was planning all of the golf courses of the state closed among golfers spurning social distancing principles.

A multitude of pictures sent to him that showed people weren’t practicing proper social distancing, not coming one in a cart. They were congregating on the greens. They tried. Because some people chose to not follow the rules, it did not work. Consequently, they shut golf courses.

People of other states are keeping an eye out for golfers that do not follow social distancing guidelines. They are doing things the right way. Very attentive to Social Distancing & providing sanitized carts (even setup outside to test us in).

Social distancing and golf are more compatible than other activities, but only if all participants do their part. Recognizing any external activity carries some risk. They will need to be safe if golf courses are allowed to stay open during the pandemic.

Federal, local, and state officials continue to adjust their instructions and definitions of “essential” companies. On April 9, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo barred the state’s golf courses through at least April 29, indicating that they were nonessential. Some avid golfers have determined against playing altogether, even under these new guidelines.

If the state or your city is allowing golf and you feel as if it’s possible to play golf, using caution is extremely paramount. Careless golfers have made the closure of their home course, leading to the suspension of play at courses statewide and impacting the perception of the game everywhere.  So think of your fellow golfer and be aware while playing golf during coronavirus.

13 Safety Tips For Playing Golf During Coronavirus Outbreak

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