Yes, the Ohio Governor’s office confirmed that golf courses may remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown, under an exception to the order as an “outdoor recreation area” and under strict use guidelines.

But with that access comes great responsibility.

Golf course owners and operators must undertake a host of Social Distancing Requirements for the foreseeable future. Steps include proactive sanitizing measures, limiting facilities and gathered crowds, and posting information online as outlined in the full text of the shutdown order.

But there are a number of responsibilities that now lie squarely on the shoulders of every golfer, too. Because any group of golfers larger than 10 gathered closely together — be it in the parking lot, on the putting green, at the first tee, or anywhere on the property for that matter — could end that facility’s exception to remain open and damage the perception of the game of golf in the process.

Thus, common sense dictates the following:

If you feel “off” in any way, stay home. This shouldn’t need an explanation or need to be said twice. Have a temp or a cough? Don’t go to the golf course.

If you don’t have a tee time, don’t show up. Do not come to the golf course without a starting time and expect to get one then wait around to play. For the next few months, assume that there are no “walk-up” tee times for anyone. Get online or get on the phone and make a tee time — and expect to pay for it in advance at many locations.

Don’t assume a golf course is open. Many more courses have decided to close their doors for the next few weeks instead of dealing with the added State requirements. Again, go online or call to confirm if the course you want to play is open. With the weather and circumstance, being open might vary day-to-day.

Expect fewer available tee times. Tee times will be spaced out with more time in between each one, to eliminate players waiting around to tee off. That means less tee time inventory. So expect that you may not be able to play where and when you want.

Expect few or no carts. Many courses will be walking-only and won’t even offer riding carts. Those that do offer carts may require solo riders. That means only a limited number of players may be able to ride. Again, be prepared and go with the flow — walking is better for you anyway.

Expect limited service. Many courses will close or significantly limit their pro shops and food services, and some will stage all operations outdoors. Courses that do keep their clubhouse facilities partially open may only offer to-go options, so food service will be limited. Be reasonable and be prepared.

Follow Social Distancing as a personal responsibility. Don’t make the person running the operations (and it will likely be a person, not persons) have to remind or scold or ask that you behave as expected. The quickest way to be banned and asked to leave at-once will be to ignore the important rules that have been set forth to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Go home when you finish your round. Elbow-bump your fellow competitors on the final green, then get in your car and head out.

 
Golfers and golf courses could find themselves under a judgmental media microscope if the non-golfing public sees that players and facilities are not behaving exactly as they have been asked. It’s the way of the world today.

So act responsibly: for yourself, for your fellow golfers, for the golf course owner/operator, and for the game at large.

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