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COVID-19 pandemic forces golf courses to make changes

  • Updated
Mike Cobb three-peats

Glenn Powell tees off during the “Chick” Miler Invitational hosted annually by Summerville Country Club.

It’s not exactly business as usual for local golf clubs, but courses remain open.

Golf courses across the nation are changing their policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic but there seems to be a consensus golfing remains a safe way to get exercise provided some precautions are taken. Mainly, golfers need to observe the six-foot social distancing standard while on the course and not share equipment or other items that could possibly lead to the spread of the coronavirus.

The South Carolina Governor’s Office is providing safety measures for golf courses that are updated as officials learn more about the virus. Organizations such as the PGA are also releasing recommendations regarding safety measures.

“We are trying to stay ahead of the recommendations and make sure we are being safe because we don’t want to put golfers at risk and we don’t want to put our industry at risk,” Summerville Country Club Golf Pro Bray Blanton said. “It’s important for all golf courses to take preventative measures so that people can stay healthy.”

SSC officials are now only allowing one golfer per cart and have removed water coolers from the course as well as the rakes from the sand traps. Golfers are now encouraged to award a preferred lie to anyone who lands a ball in a trap.

The cups for each hole on the course have been raised so golfers don’t have to stick their hand so far in the cup to retrieve their ball and golfers are instructed to leave flags in the holes at all times.

“This may be a first for golf, everyone is encouraging gimmes,” Blanton said. “Only having one person per cart makes setting up tee times more challenging so we are encouraging more people to walk and we stagger tee times.”

Ideally golfers driving carts are not scheduled for consecutive tee times so the club can best utilize the carts it has. Carts are now sanitized by the staff after each use. The staff has also placed extra emphasis on sanitizing common areas.

Just like other restaurants in the state, the club’s restaurant and bar area are closed but do still offer to-go orders. Golfers can bring their own non-alcoholic beverage but no coolers are allowed. They can also purchase a bottled beverage from the club.

Club officials are also asking golfers to bring their own hand sanitizer and collect their own trash and then leave it in a designated area. Golfers are being asked to not shake hands.

The safety measures from the Governor’s Office apply to all golf courses in the state. According to Blanton, so far neither those precautions nor the ones the club took on its own seem to be keeping people away from the course.

“As far as the number of people golfing, it’s about normal,” Blanton said. “We are getting the numbers I would expect in weather like this, but we have had to cancel some events.”

Golf and country clubs generate a lot of revenue by hosting things like weddings, fundraising events and parties so local clubs have lost much of that revenue recently.