Baker Frees Massachusetts Golf Courses from COVID Lockdown
If you've been yearning to hit the links, there's reason to celebrate. Today Governor Charlie Baker released Massachusetts golf courses from their lockdown status during the COVID-19 pandemic -- but there will be strict conditions in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under new rules, "private operators of golf courses may permit individuals access to the property so long as there are no gatherings of any kind." The new rules also require that "appropriate social distancing of six feet between individuals is strictly followed" and that groups will be limited to the traditional four golfers.
The guidance also allows municipal golf courses to open, but there's a ban on caddies and golf cart. Also, all such courses must have hand sanitizer available.
Golf courses may identify staff to work as security personnel and enforce social distancing, but no employees may work the "recreational component" of the golf operation, essentially nixing golf lessons and pro shop activities. Golfers will have to pay online or through another remote payment method. Groundskeeping will be allowed to continue.
In other restrictions, players must wait in their car until 15 minutes before their tee time, and tee times must be spaced at least 15 minutes apart. In addition, courses must keep their practice greens and driving ranges closed.
To prevent virus transmission among players, everyone must use their own clubs. Flag sticks must remain in the hole at all times, there will be no bunker rakes, and courses must remove or cover ball washers. Once the game is over, players must immediately return to their cars.
If you like to relax with a drink and a sandwich after golf, you'll be out of luck, as there will be no 19th hole, and clubhouses will be closed.
Golfers have been outspoken about their desire to resume play, and have expressed frustration that while the governor has encouraged people to get outside for exercise during his state of emergency, he did not consider that golf could be a safe activity.
Golfers from Massachusetts have reportedly been traveling to other states to tee off. Last month three Massachusetts men were arrested after allegedly sneaking into Rhode Island to play golf after that state instituted a 14-day quarantine for all visitors.