Policy Reversal Enables Golf Courses to Re-Open In Connecticut

Tim Jensen

This article originally appeared on the Ellington-Somers Patch

CONNECTICUT — Less than 40 hours after being told to shut down as part of Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order restricting non-essential businesses in Connecticut due to the coronavirus pandemic, golfers and courses around the state received a reprieve Wednesday as a policy reversal permits play, with numerous restrictions applicable.

Mike Moraghan, executive director of the Connecticut State Golf Association (CSGA), told members in an email late Wednesday morning that he had received notification about clubs being permitted to re-open from David Lehman, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

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News about the permission to play reached golfers in a hurry, as phones were ringing off the hooks at many courses Thursday morning to reserve tee times. Jeff Swanson, PGA professional at Cedar Knob Golf Course in Somers, reported already being fully booked for Saturday morning starting times.

Golfers were seen arriving in a steady flow at Cedar Knob and at nearby Grassmere Country Club in Enfield, where several players stopped to chat with Patch following their round.

"It was a little wet, but it's better than being home," Bob Emrick said.

His playing partner, Tom Reale, added, "It's better to be outside walking in the fresh air and getting exercise than sitting at home watching TV."

The message from Lehman mandates clubhouses must remain closed, only the outside portions of courses may open, walking is recommended but carts may be used with one rider apiece, and CSGA best practices are to be followed.

CSGA best practices include:

  • Maintain social distance of at least 6 feet at all times over the entire property including parking and practice areas
  • Respect of social distancing applies not only to fellow players but also to golf course employees
  • Payments and transactions should be made online or by phone
  • Restaurant facilities are closed or limited to take-out service only
  • Flagsticks and holes should be adjusted (raised cup liner, pvc or foam insert, etc.) so that cup and flagstick are not touched, players should be told not to remove or touch the flagstick
  • No caddies, no bag handlers, players handle only their own equipment and should not pick up discarded items such as used tees or stray golf balls
  • Sanitation of golf carts after use
  • No distribution of scorecards or pencils
  • Ball washers, rakes, benches, water coolers, used tee baskets and other commonly handled items on the golf course that can be removed should be removed. Players should also be told not to touch permanent structures such as rain shelters or benches that are permanently fixed
  • Stakes marking penalty areas should not be touched
  • Starting time intervals should be no less than 10 minutes, players waiting to play should not congregate, maintain social distancing at all times
  • No shotgun starts
  • If you do not feel well - stay home!

Several methods of preventing golf balls from actually dropping into the cup are being utilized at area courses, such as raising the cups to just above ground level, as shown at Grassmere Country Club (above), or inverting the cup inside the hole, like at Cedar Knob Golf Course (below).