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Hit a Hole-in-One? No High Fives Allowed

Hit a Hole-in-One? No High Fives Allowed

By Karen Knight

To access the Herald’s local coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage, click here.
COURT HOUSE – Two private golf clubs were among golf courses state-wide that reopened May 2, after being closed since April 7 due to COVID-19. Those openings were “well-received” by members who were “jonesing” to play, according to club representatives.
Jacob Hoffer, general manager, Union League National Golf Club, said operations have been “going very well,” despite several safety precautions implemented by the club to protect players from spreading the coronavirus. He added that the precautions go “above and beyond” what the governor’s executive order required, noting, “our number one priority is being good stewards to our community’s health efforts and taking the right steps to get our business back.”
Fred Riedel, director of golf, The Shore Club, said the course’s reopening was “extremely well received by our members… We’re following the strict guidelines, and it’s terrific to see people on the course.”
The Shore Club is an 18-hole championship course on Golf Club Road, in Court House. The Union League is a 27-hole championship course on Route 9 North, in Swainton.
The courses are open to members only. Hoffer said Union League National Golf Club doesn’t disclose how many members they have, but Riedel said The Shore Club has 450 members who can golf.
“We have very diverse demographics in that some of our members are year-round members, so during the busy season, they are tending to their businesses, restaurants, hotels, and not playing golf,” he said. “We also have members who are here only in the summer because they spend their winter elsewhere, so we don’t usually have all our members here to play at the same time.”
Riedel said The Shore Club is beginning to welcome new members and allowed several prospective members to preview the course before joining this past week.
“The biggest change is probably the tee-time spacing,” Riedel said. During the first week of being open, they were scheduling tee times every 20 minutes. Starting May 8, that changed to every 16 minutes. Normally, they are scheduled every eight minutes.
Hoffer said the Union League is scheduling tee-times every 16 minutes; normally they are scheduled at 12 minutes apart. The governor required tee times to be every 16 minutes, according to the executive order.
At The Shore Club, General Manager Kelley Nigra posted their new rules on their website, stressing that tee-times had to be scheduled online, and golfers could arrive only 10 minutes early.
“The biggest concern is congregating before and after you play,” Riedel said, “because once you start playing golf, you can have adequate distance between players.”
Other rules include no touch points on the course, no divot tools, pencils, scorecards, tees or yardage markers.
“At your conclusion of play, no handshakes, fist bumps or high fives,” Nigra posted.
Hoffer said Union League is requiring golfers to wear masks on the property and temperature checks are done at the entrance gate, with no-contact thermometers. Two golfers are being allowed in a golf cart if they live in the same household; single carts if not.
For the most part, both clubs had minimal staff working during the closure. Hoffer said they are renovating, but with a 27-hole facility, they can keep holes open and complete the renovation. Now, they are keeping the working staff in teams, so if someone becomes sick, it’s easier to isolate and trace previous contacts.
Riedel said they were in the midst of sand trap renovations, and are “in line for the last step, which is the sand.”
It’s a high demand item,” he noted. “There are several grades of sand used in bunkers you just can’t get it off the beach.”
Also, they built a patio outside with a fire pit and transition area, so when the clubhouse and restaurant reopen, patrons will have a larger space to enjoy the outdoors. Their pro shop underwent some renovations, as well.
“I think our members will enjoy these changes once they are able to see them and use them,” Riedel said. “That will hopefully be in phase two of our reopening.”
Since restaurants and pro shops are still closed, both golf course managers are hopeful they will be opened soon to help with revenue.
“While our membership helps carry us to stay open, it’s unclear what the future will bring,” Hoffer said. “Since we can’t have large groups and events, we aren’t sure what our landscape looks like, it’s difficult to project.
“We will begin take-out at our restaurant shortly, but we want to take the right steps as we go back to business and protect our community’s health efforts,” he added.
“I’m not sure when phase two will start,” Riedel admitted, “but I think we will be following these restrictions until there is a vaccine available for COVID-19. I know not everyone is following the rules to the letter, and the governor’s office said if they get word, they will make calls to the facility and shut it down if they are not following the rules. We are following the rules.”
“It’s terrific to see people on the course again and to see staff back,” he added.
To contact Karen Knight, email kknight@cmcherald.com.

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