Signs out of North Carolina indicate the state plans on seasonal swimming pools being open by June 1, based on belief that a proper chemical balance in a pool will kill the COVID-19 virus. Also, The Country Club of Texas opens its fairways to non-golfers for recreation, and the USGA has established an emergency relief fund for its 59 Allied Golf Association members.
Here is C+RB‘s latest roundup and summary of club-related developments surrounding the pandemic that have recently been reported. Please send updates on what your property is doing that you would like to share with the C+RB community to [email protected].
All of C+RB’s daily updates on the coronavirus situation can be found at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/covid-19/.
Swim Season by June 1?
Alan Achatz of Club Safety Solutions spoke with Brian Sheehan of Swim Club Management Group regarding reopening pools.
It appears a properly chemically balanced pool will kill the COVID-19 virus, Achatz reported. The ingress/egress hand and ladder rails still have to be sanitized.
“As discussed, North Carolina issued guidance to the local health departments recently advising them to move forward with seasonal swimming pool inspections,” Sheehan said. “This is encouraging news and we believe it to be a good sign that the state plans on seasonal swimming pools being open this summer. We are continuing to the prepare for the season. We are being told that most likely June 1 is a reasonable period for swimming pools to open.”
Click the following links from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/water.html) and state of North Carolina
Brent and Lisa Coon are opening The Country Club of Texas in Beaumont to outdoor park use for the residents of Jefferson County, Texas during the shelter-in-place practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KFDM reported. The golf course has five miles of paved sidewalks and 150 acres of land with an abundance of trees, landscaping, ponds, and wildlife. The course is still open to public and member golf play with prudent social distancing practices during normal hours.
“For non-golfers who are feeling cooped up at home and may not have many options to get outside, providing the facility for these recreational activities gives individuals and families a lot of space to get out and still comply with recommended physical distancing from others,” Brent Coon said. “We don’t want to provide access that impedes golfing traffic and imperils non-golfers, so the golf course will be open for this outside use, free of charge, on Mondays after noon until dark, and for all other days of the week from 6:30 p.m. until dark. Other times are still reserved exclusively for course maintenance and golf play.”
In order to monitor public use of the course and enhance overall safety, Coon issued a number of basic rules which will be posted at the golf course. This includes supervision requirements of all minors, staying away from some restricted areas, and other basic considerations.
“We initiated this concept at our course for everyone in the neighborhood recently and it is a big hit,” Brent Coon said. “So we wanted to expand the option to the rest of our community during these stressful times. Lisa and I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with many of the charities throughout the community over the years, providing meals to thousands of stranded folks from hurricanes and floods, and distributing thousands of toys to needy kids at Christmas who had lost everything from the recent natural disasters that have plagued our region. We both grew up here and Southeast Texas is home and doing things like this are very enjoyable for us.”
More from the Lone Star State
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order defining essential and non-essential businesses created confusion among the golfing community, KLTV reported. On one hand, it is a forum for essential exercise. On the other, there are dining rooms and social distancing requirements.
“We remain constant here in Smith County,” Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “We believe the way business(es) were operating, golf courses were operating under our business provision originally, is consistent with the governor’s specific language in his order that applies statewide … in particular we think golf courses can continue to operate here in Smith County, but we need to have their indoor clubs locked to the public.”
On April 11, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidelines saying golf courses can remain open if local authorities require social distancing protocols and people follow public health instructions, KLTV reported.
“Golf courses [were] not included in that list of essential services,” Abbott said. “However, we did say, people should feel free to go take a walk in the park to advance their own personal health, so here’s the way that’s applied … People are free to walk along or even with a golf club and a golf ball go along a golf course, a public golf course anybody can.”
Oak Hurst Golf Course in Bullard, Texas said it is following the CDC standards in order to keep its business open.
“We really emphasize the social distancing, we’re disinfecting our golf carts with soapy bleach water, cleaning them all up every day, every time they get used,” Head Golf Professional Jeff Raimer said.
Maintenance workers who are necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of the course are likewise essential, KLTV reported. Such services may continue to operate, and employees performing those services may go to work at the golf course.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a letter that golf courses are allowed to let players walk courses, although people would not be allowed to rent golf carts and pro shops would remain closed, News 4 out of San Antonio reported. At the moment, all golf courses and driving ranges remain closed in Bexar County.
Despite the new guidelines from the state, at least one local golf course operator said the decision to reopen courses in San Antonio will have to come from local leaders, News 4 reported.
“It’s very challenging to be open because you can’t have anybody out there policing the golf course and you can’t have anyone out there to verify that customers have paid,” said Andrew Peterson, president of Alamo City Golf Trail, which runs eight city courses.
He added that maintenance crews are taking advantage of the downtime by making a lot of repairs and improvements they normally would not be able to do if golfers were still playing, KLTV reported.
The relaxed rules come on the heels of Abbott’s praise of the state’s coronavirus efforts.
“We are seeing a low number of deaths and a low number of hospitalizations compared to other states,” Abbott said. “People should take that as a good sign that COVID-19, while dangerous, while still growing in the State of Texas, is not as severe as it is in some other states.”
Prior to the 2018 season, Foster (R.I.) Country Club offered a three-year membership for $180 with golfers only paying for cart rentals. Walkers paid zero, The Providence Journal reported. On April 8, the course sent an e-mail changing that option, charging $20 for 18 holes and $10 for nine while extending memberships an extra year.
“If we didn’t, imagine going four, five, six weeks before they decided to let carts outs,” said Brian Benson, Foster’s PGA Professional. “We could put 150 people out there and literally collect zero dollars.”
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette provided updates from area golf courses.
“Our maintenance crew has been really good in policing the course,” said Dan Berry, Gardner Municipal Golf Course Pro Shop Manager. “We’ve had a few younger guys who jumped out on the back nine with one club each, but they were stopped pretty quickly. Other than that, every time I’ve been around our property, I have not seen anyone approaching the course with clubs thinking they can play. I’ve been very happy about that and not having to deal with that kind of problem while we’re all waiting it out.”
At Townsend Ridge Country Club in Townsend, Mass., which switched from a public to a private course this year, Derick Fors, General Manager and Head Professional hasn’t encountered too many problems associated with the mandated closure, The Telegram & Gazette reported.
“Courses have to figure out ways to manage their properties, and some have it more difficult than others, Fors said. “We’re blessed in a way because we’re kind of off the beaten path here. We’re just politely telling people that they really can’t be here. Plus, being a private course now, we can communicate with our members directly. Naturally, I really don’t want to be closed, but I think it’s important that we do our part.”
Fors added that normally Townsend Ridge opens around the middle of April. “So we lose a couple of weeks, but that also means when we do open, we’ll be in great shape,” he said.
The Woods of Westminster opened before the governor’s mandate and then had to close down, The Telegram & Gazette reported. Still, last week, a few golfers showed up and played a few holes before being caught and asked to leave.
“We’ve seen a lot of things since we opened in 1998, but I never thought we would see something like this,” Manager Dan Bartkus said. “We opened in the first week of March, our earliest opening ever, and we ended up with the highest amount of members we’ve ever had – 150 paid and ready to play. And honestly our course conditions are more like May and June right now. We know that the next two weeks are the most important and we have our fingers crossed for a May 4 opening. And we have all kinds of ideas for keeping people safe when we do open, like more walking, or one golf cart per golfer, and making payments before they get to the course.”
Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne Ind. offered a pre-purchased credit program which allowed members to purchase any amount of credit that can be used throughout the 2020 season. With the program, members receive 20 percent off all soft goods and an additional discount on select hard-good purchases. The discount can be applied as an additional discount with other sales promotions, as well.
USGA Emergency Relief Fund
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has established an emergency relief fund for its 59 Allied Golf Association (AGA) members with an investment of up to $5 million. The funding will come in the form of grants to help ensure business continuity and staffing levels during this time of hardship.
Individual AGAs may apply for up to $100,000; additional financial assistance will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The application process began April 13 and will continue through the summer as needed.
“These golf associations are the backbone of the recreational and competitive golf communities at the local, state and regional level,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “They play a vital role not only in delivering the USGA’s core services, but also in engaging millions of golfers across the country at the local level. This support will help enable the game to make a strong return once it’s safe to do so.”
The USGA has previously provided direct financial assistance to its AGA partners during times of need, most recently in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Opening Fargo Fairways
The threat of a Red River flood to Edgewood and Rose Creek golf courses appears to be a manageable situation for the Fargo Park District this week, the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune reported. The river has crested for a second time and the latest one was lower than the first.
C+RB reported on the flooding concerns in March (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/coronavirus-club-update-3-31-20-rants-against-selfish-privilege-and-thick-headed-golfers/)
Now it’s on to the next issue: the operating procedures once the courses can open amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Tribune reported. Fargo Parks Executive Director Dave Leker said April 13 he and his staff are looking at how other courses, like those in western North Dakota that have opened, are handling social distancing.
“We’re making our own set of procedures that will work for us,” Leker said. “We’re going to start on the conservative side. We’ll work into it.”
Riverwood Golf Course in Bismarck opened April 10 with stipulations like tee times in 14-minute increments, one-person per golf cart and a cup-sized target on the green that is considered the hole, the Tribune reported. The golf shop and lounge areas are closed to the public and only portable restrooms are available on the course.
Leker said the Fargo Parks are following state and local health guidelines and “we’ll try to work within those guidelines.”
“Recreation is a big part of helping people deal with being cooped up,” he said. “Everybody in the springtime is generally tired of being inside anyway. We want to do it properly and we want to obey the guidelines. For instance, don’t congregate in parking lots. Get your round in and follow our procedures. I have and we’re going to continue to preach this — self-responsibility. The minute you don’t take responsibility for your own actions somebody will tell us what to do.”
Leker told the Tribune there is no timeline on an opening date, especially with a cold week in store. Most likely the two nine-hole courses, Osgood and Prairiewood, will open first before Edgewood and Rose Creek get going.
The Moorhead, Minn. golf courses will have to wait until at least May 4 because of the executive stay-in order instituted by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. The latest order from last week, however, gave courses the ability to have grounds crew workers on site for maintenance, the Tribune reported. Meadows Head Professional Jay Haug said his course will probably mirror the procedures of other courses when it does open.
“We have different scenarios we have planned out,” Haug said. “We’re kind of ready for it. It’s what society will have us doing.”
Leker told the Tribune he expects to have the Fargo Parks procedures finished this week. He figures he’ll have a better idea next week on a possible opening. For starters, the soil temperatures need to get warmer so grass can start to grow.
“I think we’ll have a better idea early next week what the five- to seven-day forecast is,” Leker said. “We’ll try to open not necessarily everything at once; we’ll probably stage the openings.”
As of Monday afternoon, Edgewood had water on most of No. 4 and the lower areas of holes 12 and 13, the Tribune reported. Water surrounded No. 16 green, but the 17 tee box is resurfacing and water is receding on No. 18 fairway.
“We’re on our way back down again,” said Head Professional Greg McCullough.
At Rose Creek, water was only an issue on the par-3 13th green and that has since receded, the Tribune reported.
“We’re sitting good as far as the water is concerned,” said Head Professional Matt Cook. “The green looks healthy and we don’t foresee any issues.”
Curbside Liquor Sales
Social clubs like the Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of Eagles, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars in Bloomington, Ill. will be able to provide curbside pickup and delivery of alcohol while their halls are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Pantagraph reported. The city’s emergency ordinance, which the Bloomington City Council approved on March 26, permits restaurants and taverns that are licensed to sell packaged liquor to offer pickup and delivery so they can continue to receive revenue during the pandemic.
“The private clubs came to us after the other order was approved and asked us if they could be included because they have stock sitting on their shelves that they are not able to sell because of the [state’s] stay-at-home order,” said City Manager Tim Gleason.
The council unanimously agreed April 13 to amend the city’s emergency ordinance to add the service clubs, The Pantagraph reported. Tobacco shops are not allowed to provide curbside pickup of their products because state officials do not identify them as an essential service, city Corporation Counsel Jeff Jurgens said.