By Rob Kiser
Miami Valley Today
The recent “Stay At Home” order undoubtedly left many people with some confusion — understandable when you are going through something like this for the first time.
Local golfers were among those confused.
Were golf courses allowed to stay open — if so, how would things change from normal procedure?
And golfers weren’t the only ones — after reading the order, golf courses had the same question.
That includes Echo Hills Golf Professional Chip Fox and Miami Shores Golf Professional Kyler Booher.
“I would say confusing is a good word,” Fox said. “(When it comes to golf), you could interpret it however you wanted to.”
“Up until 2 p.m. Monday, I was texting people like the Miami Valley Golf Association trying to get some answers,” Booher said. “Then, we found out we would be able to stay open. If you read one part of the order, it sounded like we would be closed and if you read another part of the order it sounded like we would be open. There is no specific mention of golf in the order, so where did we fall?”
For local golfers, they will find a number of changes at both golf courses to protect them from the Corona Virus.
At Echo Hills, you will be limited to one per per cart, until they are out of carts.
There are no flagsticks or bunker rakes. On Tuesday, Echo Hills also lifted the cup liner several inches about the hole, so that your ball does not go in the hole and you don’t have to reach into the hole to get your ball out.
You must have a tee time to play and Fox has spread that out to 15 minutes apart.
“That is to keep people spread out and away from each other on the course,” Fox said. “I am limiting to no more than two or three people in the clubhouse at a time. I want to have as little contact as possible (with golfers). If they have to come in, come in and pay and go. There is no hanging out in the clubhouse. My biggest concern is on the putting green and making sure they stay (six feet) apart. You have to have a tee time, we can’t have a larger number of people just showing up here and wanting to play.”
He has also set aside 9-10 a.m. for seniors only.
“I did that in case they were concerned about being around others and not feeling safe,” Fox said. “This gives them a time when they can tee off.”
At Echo Hills, you can still purchase drinks and snacks, but not any food or sandwiches.
“And you have to take it outside the clubhouse,” Fox said. “We are not going to be selling any foods.”
He is also limiting how many people can be in the clubhouse.
The only doors unlocked are the west door to the clubhouse and a door near it that leads to the bathroom.
“To two or three people,” Fox said. “And I have tape down (six feet apart), where people have to stand if there is a line. I would prefer everyone pay with credit card, but if they play with cash, I have hand sanitizer here on the counter.”
The computer to enter your scores at Echo Hills will no longer be available for use.
“They (the USGA) were going to get rid of those anyway at some point,” Fox said. “It is just so easy to use your phone to enter your scores (on the GHIN App).
Booher and the golf course have put in many of the same practices at Miami Shores, like one person per cart and removing bunker rakes.
Shores has chosen to leave the flagsticks in, but the ball will not go to the bottom of the hole.
“We put a PVC pipe in each hole so the ball only goes about halfway down, that way they don’t have to touch the flagstick,” Booher said. “We are also concerned with protecting our maintenance workers, so we are having them do only what they absolutely have to do.”
Booher is also limiting contact as much as possible. You can do an online check-in at miamishorestroy.com
“That (online check-in) was something I was planning on implementing anyway, this has just made it happen a little sooner,” Booher said. “I keep the door locked, so only one person can enter at a time. If I see a member who doesn’t need to pay, I just wave at them as they go to the first tee and check them in myself. We are doing anything we can do to limit contact.”
They are not selling any food or drink at Miami Shores.
“That is just something we did to be on safe side,” Booher said. “There are plenty of other options out there for food.”
Booher has adapted his tee times as well.
“We have spread it out to 10 minutes,” Booher said. “If we need to go to 15, I will be happy to do that.”
Golf.com listed 11 things you shouldn’t do during Corona Virus.
They include the following:
1.Don’t share carts.
2.Don’t remove the pin.
3.Don’t borrow clubs.
4.Don’t borrow accessories.
5.Don’t toss your partner their ball.
6.Don’t toss your partner their ball marker.
7.Don’t exchange cash.
8.Don’t shake hands.
9.Don’t reach into the golf hole.
10.Don’t rent clubs.
11.Don’t hang around the clubhouse.
“You might want to pay your bets off with PayPal instead,” Fox said with a laugh.
Booher said it is happy to provide golfers a diversion during these difficult times.
“We just want to make it safe for those who are looking for a diversion and want use golf as a way to get exercise, to be able to be safe and enjoy this great game we all love.”
Fox is happy a number of golf courses are staying open.
“I think most of them around here are staying open,” he said. “The last thing you want is a crowd showing up at one golf course.”
They both know it could be a bigger challenger when the weather warms up.
“That will be a challenge,” Booher said. “But, we will make it work.”
Fox said there may be one advantage.
“With no flagsticks in, they will probably hit more greens,” he said with a laugh.
Contact Rob Kiser at [email protected].
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