Golfers can rejoice, as their green canvases have reopened. Gov. Charlie Baker announced on May 7 that golf courses, which had previously been required to close, could begin reopening across the state under certain guidelines.
Since golf courses are still considered nonessential businesses, the only staff allowed on the premises are security and maintenance personnel, and they must wear face coverings. Caddies are not permitted.
Golfers must maintain social distancing and stay at least six feet apart. Groups are restricted to no more than four players. They must bring their own clubs, and either carry their own bags or use pull carts. The state is allowing the use of golf carts only for those with disabilities, and they must be cleaned and sanitized after each use.
Course facilities such as the clubhouse, golf shop, restaurant, bag room, and locker room must remain closed.
The full list of rules can be found at massgolf.org/play/safeplayguidelines/. All golf courses and golfers must abide by the state guidelines, but individual courses may enforce additional standards if they so choose.
The Captains Golf Course in Brewster opened to members on May 8, Highland Links in Truro opened to the public on May 10, and the Chequessett Yacht and Country Club in Wellfleet opened its nine-hole course on May 12 to members and will be open to the public starting May 18. Captains does not have a public opening date yet.
“We’re glad we’re open,” said Jim Rondeau of Highland Links. Rondeau was managing the course on Monday. “We’re glad to see our old friends.”
There were a few groups of golfers out on the links on Monday afternoon before it began raining. For players, masks are encouraged but not required, and most golfers seen Monday were not wearing them while playing. Since social distancing is a natural part of the game, players were able to keep more than six feet apart with relative ease.
“Personally, I haven’t golfed with more than four people at a time,” said Mike Warren of Orleans, adding that social distancing is not a problem for him. He is a frequent local golfer and happy to be able to get back on the course.
Warren believes that courses could have been open the whole time. “If people were playing safely, practicing distancing, and not in big groups, I think it could have worked out fine,” he said. “They could have set up tee times maybe a half hour apart to be extra safe.”
Reservations are required at the three local courses and payment must be made online. Practice facilities remain closed, and tee times are 15 minutes apart. According to state guidelines, flagsticks must remain in the holes, and hole liners must be raised so picking a ball out of the hole by hand doesn’t occur.
Rondeau said that there’s no timeline set in stone for phasing everything back at Highland, which is considered the oldest links course in the U.S., having been founded in 1892. It is located in the Cape Cod National Seashore.
“We’ll go by the governor, the town, and the Seashore — whatever they say, we’ll do,” Rondeau said.
Mark O’Brien, director of operations at Captains, had previously told the Independent that he expected the phased approach to resuming golf operations that is being instituted now.
“We are formulating plans and will work with the various town departments to make sure we are providing a safe environment,” O’Brien said.
If you choose to play, be sure to visit the course website for specific guidelines and to make a reservation (Captains: captainsgolfcourse.com; Highland Links: highlandlinkscapecod.com; Chequessett: chequessettclub.com).