Gov. Charlie Baker Backs Down, Reopens Golf Courses in Massachusetts

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Court Cook via Unsplash

Golf courses in Massachusetts are now allowed to reopen with certain restrictions, according to the state’s official website.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Thursday is expected to formally announce the move as the state eyes entering into the first stage of reopening this month:

Golf courses, although considered “nonessential” businesses under Baker’s order closing such businesses until May 18, will be permitted to reopen with certain restrictions, according to Mass.gov.

“Golf courses are not essential businesses and cannot have employees working on-premise,” the government website states.

“Notwithstanding this restriction, essential services, such as groundskeeping to avoid hazardous conditions and security, provided by employees, contractors, or vendors are permitted,” it continues, outlining the announcement:

Private operators of golf courses may permit individuals access to the property so long as there are no gatherings of any kind, appropriate social distancing of six feet between individuals is strictly followed, and the business operator and golfers abide by the specific guidelines for golf courses outlined below.

Municipalities can reopen municipal courses if they adhere to the list of guidelines, which includes the closure of club facilities, the utilization of remote or online paying options, and absence of caddies and golf carts.

Full list, via the government’s website:

  • Security personnel can be delineated by each club (ex. a pro and the head starter) and will be present to enforce social distancing. There can be no other employees working at the recreational component of the golf operation.
  • All staff must wear face coverings while on the property
  • Club facilities including but not limited to the club house, pro shop, restaurant, bag room and locker room must remain closed
  • No caddies allowed
  • No golf carts allowed
  • Push carts may be used. Players must either carry their own bag or use a push cart
  • All golfers must maintain proper social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times
  • Groups of players are restricted to no more than 4 players at one time.
  • Members-only clubs can allow guests as determined by the security personnel on the golf course
  • Private clubs that allow non-members to make reservations can do so at their discretion
  • Maintenance personnel are permitted to work on the golf course
  • Tee Time Policy must be 15 minutes between groups
  • Golfers must stay in their car until 15 minutes before their tee time and must return to their car immediately following play
  • Online and remote payment options must be utilized
  • All golfers must use their own golf clubs. Sharing golf clubs or rental golf clubs is not allowed.
  • Flag sticks must remain in the hole. Hole liners must be raised so picking a ball out of the hole doesn’t occur
  • Bunker rakes must be removed, and ball washers must be removed or covered.
  • Practice putting green, driving range, and chipping areas must be closed.
  • Facilities must have readily accessible hand sanitizer

Breitbart News spoke with a Massachusetts golf club owner, Cara Cullen, this week, who was mulling defying the state’s order and in contact with the state government “in hopes of getting the course reopened”:

Cara Cullen, along with other members of the Marroney family, has owned Wachusett Country Club in West Boylston, Massachusetts, since 1939. The family has also owned Kettle Brook Golf Club in Paxton, MA, since 2008. Cullen spoke with Breitbart News about the decision she is weighing as to when to reopen for business and defy the state’s order.

According to Cullen, there seems to be a “general consensus” among golf clubs in the area to defy the state government’s order and reopen for business, saying, “We don’t have a choice” and that they have “nothing to lose at this point.” Cullen said she believes that if golf courses are not reopened soon, she believes most in the Central Massachusetts area will “go under.”

Baker said on Wednesday he hopes the state can begin reopening May 18, when his order is set to expire. That is contingent on seeing “sustained downward trends,” the governor said.

“Our goal, starting on May 18, is to begin reopening certain types of businesses in a limited fashion where it can be done more safely than under normal operations,” he stated.

“The phased reopening, where only certain industries begin to reopen, that we’re planning for now, can’t move forward until we see progress on surge capacity,” Baker added.

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