On Wednesday, March 25, 2020 the following announcement came from the office of David Lehman, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD):
Golf Courses – Allow them to open subject to the below
** Clubhouses not open, outside portion of course open only
** For those who can walk, they should walk
** For those who cannot, one person per cart
Follow CSGA best practices – Pay online, players handle their own clubs, etc
** 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!
This list from both DECD and CSGA, while extensive may not be entirely comprehensive. If golf course operations develop additional methods of reducing or eliminating risk and keeping both players and staff safe, please institute those practices and share with others in the golf community.
With this announcement from DECD, golf can be played, and played safely in Connecticut during the COVID-19 pandemic. But only if everyone follows these guidelines at all times - especially maintaining strict adherence to social distancing. Any golfer who fails to abide by these guidelines should not be playing, and courses would be justified in expelling those who fail to follow these guidelines.
In our original draft of "CSGA Best Practices" we included language that would address this exception, and say of course it's OK for people who live in the same household to share a cart (or for that matter stand next to each other, hug, hold hands, etc.). It makes sense after all. But we took it out because players who might be in an adjacent fairway, or even two fairways over would have no idea of the relationships of people whom they might see riding together 100 or 200 yards away. Would they assume it's a couple who live together, or think it's two people ignoring the need for social distancing?
We removed the "allowance for couples/roommates" from the original draft so that everyone - when playing golf - would have to play by the same standards. And maybe in a small way help reinforce good behavior. It has been our hope that couples will look at it as a way to set a good example. Maybe the more all of us see other people doing it (maintaining distance), the more the message is reinforced and put into practice - everywhere - on and off the course.
We are aware that some courses are allowing couples to ride together and designating their cart with a “handicapped flag.” This may be a reasonable practice provided all golfers are made aware of the “flag designation” and couples, parents and children are known or easily identifiable. Golf course employees should not be expected to examine IDs for proof of living arrangements.
There is some confusion on this issue because of an incident in which golfers from Massachusetts hid their car in a nearby parking lot so that they could play a golf course in Rhode Island. This was a problem because Rhode Island had instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all non-workers (not just golfers) who were entering their state. Because Connecticut does not have a mandatory quarantine for people entering our state, folks from neighboring states can freely enter Connecticut. Governor Lamont has indicated that his Stay Home, Stay Safe and social distancing requirements are taking the place of the 14-day quarantine requirements that other states have required. Golfers from other states playing in Connecticut must abide by the same guidelines instituted by the CT DECD. If they do not follow the guidelines they should not be permitted to play, no different from a Connecticut-based player who fails to follow the guidelines.
Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7BB (April 22) provided greater detail on the use of face masks, stating that anyone who can not maintain a distance of six feet from others must wear a mask. This speaks to the need to practice social distancing at all times. Specific to outdoor space, the order reads, “Continuous wearing of masks is not required in outdoor workspaces where employees do not regularly come within six feet of other employees.” For the complete text regarding “Safe Workplace Rules” go here:
In reply to this question, the DECD stated on Friday, April 24, “Ladies rest rooms on course are allowed to open.” Questions about port-o-potties, or the use of bathrooms in which doors can remain open and all functions are hands-free and automated (toilets, faucets, soap and towel dispensers) should be referred to local zoning and health authorities.
Yes, provided the DECD guidelines are followed. This will require a change in the way many leagues and competitions are conducted. With no shotgun starts, pairings will need to follow a tee sheet, and may need to be scattered throughout the day. With no scorecards to be distributed, players can print a card at home or keep track of their score or match on their phone. Scores and results should be checked, submitted and posted electronically. Prizes should be held in account, or distributed electronically. The Tournament Committee can also incorporate certain local rules such as providing free relief to a player whose ball is in an un-raked bunker or declaring movable obstructions to be immovable. Players should depart immediately after the round. There should be no tailgating in course parking lots.
Yes, driving ranges and practice facilities are allowed to be open, provided social distancing is maintained at all times, and the touching of shared surfaces is eliminated. Expanded space in hitting areas, elimination of bags, baskets and range tokens, removal of rubberized mat tees, and use of only your own tees are among the ways driving ranges can operate safely.
The prohibition against caddies at this time applies to the traditional bag-carrying caddie who would handle a player’s clubs and stand in close proximity to others many times throughout a round. There is no prohibition against forecaddies who, by the nature of their work would typically be hundreds of yards away from the player employing their services. Forecaddies are permitted, provided they maintain social distancing and follow all other guidelines at all times.
We moved some tournaments that were to be played at private clubs that are still restricting play to members only. We have postponed others where the use of carts is problematic. For example, a field of 120 players that would normally require 60 carts, now requires 120 carts. Even if that were feasible, it is undesirable to flood a golf course with twice the usual number of golf carts. We have also postponed some events where the site and multiday nature of the event would call for travel, hotel stays and restaurant service for both players and officials.
We also hope that by postponing events to later in the season we will have a better chance of playing under more typical tournament conditions, without adjustments for flagsticks, un-raked bunkers and other accommodations acceptable for recreational golf, but undesirable for tournament play.