Mass. Golf Courses Allowed to Reopen Thursday

Massachusetts is one of the last states in the country to allow golf courses to reopen

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Golf courses in Massachusetts were allowed to reopen on Thursday under a series of strict guidelines, Mass Golf and Gov. Charlie Baker announced.

Mass Golf, the state's official golf association, declared the news on its Twitter account on Thursday morning.

Gov. Charlie Baker made an official announcement later in the day.

The administration updated a COVID-19 essential services web page Thursday morning and said that while golf courses are not considered essential businesses, "private operators of golf courses may permit individuals access to the property so long as there are no gatherings of any kind..."

"We're all social distancing and spending time with my family today, we're all cooped up in the house and we really appreciate opening up the courses," said golfer Peter Littlefield.

Massachusetts golfers are getting back on the green.

On its website, Mass Golf said there will be specific safety measures that golf courses must abide by in order to reopen.

They include wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, groups being limited to four players or less and a minimum of 15 minutes between tee times. Online and remote payment options must be used, golfers must stay in their car until 15 minutes before their tee time and no golf carts or caddies will be allowed.

A golf club closed since March is filing for bankruptcy, affecting people who scheduled events their, including a couple that had planned to get married there.

”We’re going to space tee-time intervals to a manageable time to allow groupings to be spaced accordingly on the golf course," Massachusetts Golf Association CEO Jesse Menachem said prior to Thursday's announcement.

He added courses would work to reduce objects on the course that could be touched by multiple people.

"And then as I mentioned to eliminate touch points. To pull anything that can be touched during a given round,” he said

Courses in Massachusetts have been closed since mid-March, when they were deemed non-essential businesses.

Bungay Brook Golf Club owner Therese Barry says the customers were showing up as soon as they opened.

"We tried to call three courses and this was the only one that was open," said golfer Sean Littlefield. "They got ready real quick."

"I'm a little discouraged with not having carts, especially for senior players, because they would really benefit from being outside and having a good round of golf, but some of them are older and just can't walk the nine holes," said Glen Bourque, owner of Chmawa in North Attleboro.

Golfing had already resumed in at least 47 states, according to the Boston Globe.

Golfers had been vocal about their desire to get back on the links, and their frustration that the governor consistently encouraged people to get outside and get exercise, but did not seem to give real credence to the idea that golf could be a safe, distant activity.

"We're not a warm weather state. It's been winter for the most part. I get the fact that there are golfers who like to golf in the winter. But if you were to say to me do I think that golfing in the winter would be considered an essential thing to be doing at a point in time when we were closing down thousands and thousands and thousands of other non-essential businesses in Massachusetts? My answer to that would be no," Baker said last week.

The governor was responding to a question from online golf columnist Tom Gorman, who recently dubbed the governor "Golf's Grim Reaper."

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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