Reports surfaced as May 7th began that an announcement that courses could reopen was imminent from Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, which stood as the last holdout state at the start of the day. Also in today’s update: Tensions run high at a Millbury, Mass. course as it defied the order to stay closed; free webinar offered for how UV and germicidal lighting technologies can be applied in the fight against COVID-19; and Royce Brook Golf provides regular meals to seniors in the community who cannot leave their homes and do not have family members nearby.
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+RBcommunity to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of C+RB’s daily updates on the coronavirus situation can be found at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/covid-19/.
And Then There Were None?
Club and golf course operators in Vermont and Maryland were given the good news on May 6th that play could resume in those states, and news outlets reported as May 7th began that Gov Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, the last remaining state to maintain a ban on play, was expected to make an announcement later that day allowing courses there to reopen. The fact that neighboring states had lifted their bans was seen as the reason Baker would finally relent, reports said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s move to reopen courses followed lobbying by owners and operators of clubs, The Baltimore Sun reported. A reporter from Politico reporter even asked him about it in April during a live interview.
“I want to get you on the record on this critical issue,” reporter Jake Sherman asked. “Will golf courses in your state open any time in the near future?”
“Is there particular golf course that you would like to have open?” Hogan responded, chuckling. Hogan went on to say that opening golf courses would be “one of the early things that we do” as part of reopening—a pledge that he fulfilled on May 6th, announcing that courses could open the next day, The Sun reported.
David G. Bannister, a Board member of Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore County, told The Sun that he thinks golf is an activity that can be done safely.
While some courses might reopen immediately, Caves Valley plans to take its time preparing the facility and open May 22, The Sun reported.
“We need a couple weeks to get things ready to go,” Bannister said. “Caves is a high-end experience. In order to present it the way you want, it takes a little time to tidy up.”
Republican lawmakers also had pressed to allow golfing, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress, The Sun reported. Though he’s not a golfer, Harris said that as an anesthesiologist he understands how to control infections.
Harris has become a vocal proponent of the “reopen” movement, agitating for Hogan to lift restrictions and restart the local economy, The Sun reported. He appeared last weekend at a rally in Salisbury, Md. comparing Maryland to North Korea and China.
“We should categorize businesses as low-risk and high-risk and allow low-risk businesses to open,” he said. “Golf is a perfect example.”
Several other reports of openings in specific localities that had maintained bans even when their states were allowing play also were made on May 6th, including by Los Angeles, Calif. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who announced that city-owned golf courses could reopen for public use on Saturday, May 9th.
Tensions Run High
A report in the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette illustrated how contentious the issue of golf course openings had become in holdout states. The Telegram & Gazette reported that the nine-hole Clearview Country Club in Millbury, Mass. had openly and repeatedly defied Gov. Charlie Baker’s order for non-essential businesses—including golf courses—to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the state Department of Labor Standards to issue a cease-and-desist order to the club on April 22nd.
In March, The Telegram & Gazette reported, the state ordered businesses that do not provide essential services to close their premises to workers, customers and the public as of March 24, with violators subject to fines of $300 per day.
Millbury’s Board of Health Chairman James M. Morin told The Telegram & Gazette that he and police officers twice went to the golf club to hand the cease-and-desist order to the owner, Neil Lummis.
Morin said they were greeted with belligerence, The Telegram & Gazette reported. On one occasion, Lummis allegedly ripped up the order. On another, he refused to come from behind a glass doorway, but was nonetheless served the order, according to Police Chief Donald Desorcy.
When a reporter from The Telegram & Gazette called the golf course three times on May 6th, a man who answered the phone refused to take a message and hung up.
Morin told The Telegram & Gazette he’s been monitoring the club and provided the newspaper with photographs that he said he took of play from a distance. The images showed golfers close to one another and not wearing masks.
“Every day there are 30 cars, or 40 golfers up there,” Morin said. “Every time I’ve gone up there I see four guys on the tee, and they’re all within a foot of each other to talk and stuff.”
Desorcy confirmed on May 6th that Lummis had been “very defiant and extremely disrespectful” to police, The Telegram & Gazette reported.
On the day of officials’ second visit, Desorcy said, he followed up with his own visit, using an unmarked cruiser. He said he saw 40 to 45 cars in the parking lot, the Telegram & Gazette reported.
Desorcy said he drove to the rear of the building and saw even more cars, so he decided to get out and take photographs, the Telegram & Gazette reported.
A man came toward the chief yelling and screaming “like a raving madman,” Desorcy said.
The chief removed his identification from his rear pocket as the man continued with a barrage of yelling for up to three minutes, he said. Desorcy said it was clear the man hadn’t heard him identify himself as the police chief, the Telegram & Gazette reported
Desorcy said he was asked for his driver’s license, and when Desorcy showed his ID a second time, the worker “made a lunge for it, like he wanted to pull it out of my hands.”
Desorcy said he ordered the worker to maintain a distance of six feet, the Telegram & Gazette reported
According to Desorcy, Lummis later implied that the golfers were “friends of his, and had just kind of walked on the course and were trespassing,” according to the chief.
The chief said he offered to have a uniformed officer escort them off the property, but Lummis declined, the Telegram & Gazette reported
The owner also argued that the club wasn’t open for actual business and had only collected money from a donation box, the Telegram & Gazette reported. But the chief said if the club isn’t open, its flags should be removed from the course.
Desorcy said Lummis also told him that the club should be considered an essential business because it sells food, the Telegram & Gazette reported But the chief said he confirmed that the club isn’t properly licensed for takeout and curbside food service, which are allowed for restaurants.
The chief said he relayed his concerns to a state Department of Labor Standards inspector, and he said he hopes that the state will begin levying daily fines to the club.
“This guy is going to end up getting arrested at some point in time, which I’m trying to prevent that from happening,” Desorcy said. “Because he gets that agitated, and he gets very combative.
“That’s not our purpose here. Whether that’s his purpose or not, I can’t really say if he’s trying to get arrested to make a stance or not,” Desorcy added.
Desorcy said he doesn’t play golf, but expressed hope that the state would allow golf courses to reopen, as long as there’s a decrease in COVID-19 cases, and if golf is “going to make people happier,” the Telegram & Gazette reported.
Free Webinar: UV & Germicidal Lighting Technologies
Donnelly Constructions’ Donnelly Energy unit is hosting a free webinar on Friday, May 8 at 12:00 PM Eastern time to discuss UV and germicidal lighting technologies, their efficacy, and how they can be applied throughout a variety of industries in the fight against COVID-19.
The 30-minute webinar will be focused on solutions for various types of facilities, including club and resort properties.
To register, go to https://fsgi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AQdDgKcCTxefpF3E17D7aA
Royce Brook Golf Club, in collaboration with Hillsborough Township in central New Jersey, is providing meals to seniors in the community who cannot leave their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In partnership with Hillsborough Social Services, Royce Brook is helping to provide 25 free meals three times per week to seniors who cannot leave their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have family members nearby to assist. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Head Chef Mark Barrows and staff prepare meals at the club to be delivered by Hillsborough township employees and drivers to residences throughout the community.
“We are so honored and humbled by the efforts of our team in providing food for the local senior population,” says Eric Thompson, Royce Brook’s General Manager. “This pandemic has paralyzed the elderly community more than anyone else, so the least we can do is make sure they have everything they need to get through these tough times.
“We are counted on to be an asset to the town of Hillsborough,” Thompson added. “So now is the time to step up for those less fortunate than us.”