It’s a hole new ballgame.
Golf is one of the few things people can still do during the coronavirus outbreak — but new pandemic rules are anything but par for the course, operators said Thursday.
Players have been struck by a slew of germ-safe regulations and etiquette suggestions in the tri-state area, ranging from a one-person-per-cart limit, to no touching flags or reaching in holes for balls.
“We’re encouraging no handshaking or fist-bumping, and to maintain six feet from each person,” said Chris Mulvihill of the Crystal Springs Golf Resort in Hamburg. “Some people say, whoa, that’s extreme but we’re trying to be proactive.”
The golf course put out a game-changing list of new rules that includes removing rakes from sand traps and ball washers along with urging golfers not to finish off close shots to avoid touching the inside of holes.
The resort has also installed “raised holes” that balls “easily bounce out of” to urge golfers not to use their hands, Mulvihill said. Along with sanitizing all driving range balls between each player, it has also gone to a cash-free set-up.
Other courses, including Fox Hollow Golf Club and Neshanic Valley Golf Course in New Jersey, have been urging players to walk instead of driving carts to encourage social distancing. Others are urging players to book ahead of time so there’s no need to enter the pro shop.
“We are disinfecting carts between use, encouraging golfers to leave the flag and pulling our cups out slightly so you don’t have to reach in and touch them,” said Matthew Galvin, owner of Morningstar Golf and Hospitality in New Jersey.
His course, Fox Hollow Golf Club, previously had a no walking rule that has since been scrapped. “Now we let people walk if they wish,” he said. “That space is good.”
But even with stricter new rules, the links have been packed, golf course workers said.
“I have a full Tee sheet tomorrow,” said Tom, a pro shop worker at the Neshanic Valley Golf Course
He said the green was roughly as busy as it was two weeks ago.
“People are going stir-crazy,” he said. “They’re coming here because they can’t take it at home anymore!”