PENNLIVE — Golfers in Pennsylvania have waited patiently for a chance to break out the sticks and hit their favorite courses.
That opportunity begins Friday with the official start of the spring golf season.
Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf opened his work week by announcing that golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately-owned campgrounds across the Commonwealth are allowed to reopen Friday.
Some restrictions put in place to counter the spread of the coronavirus remain, so golfers can expect a somewhat different playing experience.
Wolf, however, stated that “measured limited steps” in reopening such outdoor activities will help boost the economy and be good for mental health.
For golf course owners, the process of generating much-needed revenue could not be delayed.
Robert Kleckner, president of the Pa. Golf Course Owners Association, said Monday that his organization pushed harder in the past six weeks to have golf considered a permissible activity. Courses were forced to shut down March 19.
“It’s pretty emotional. You know, we lost hundreds of thousands of operational dollars – every course did. Not profit dollars,” Kleckner told the Associated Press.
“What a relief to myself and my family.”
More positive news is that public golf courses around the area should be busy in the coming hours.
A quick set of phone calls Wednesday revealed several popular courses, like Rich Valley in Mechanicsburg, had no tee times remaining on its Friday starting sheet.
A Rich Valley employee also said the facilities first available tee time on Saturday was 4:30 p.m. Like patrons supporting local restaurants by ordering take out, golf facilities will need a consistent flow of golfers to keep the doors open.
Below are some guidelines to follow when you hit the links.
Social distancing of at least 6-feet remains in effect, and each course will offer some variation on how to access their facility, schedule tee times and arrange payment.
• Players are asked to arrive no more than 15 minutes before scheduled tee time. No gatherings in parking lots before or after a round.
• Golfers from the same household will be permitted to ride together in a cart. All other golfers will be single riders. Golfers should only touch their equipment, load their own cart, and bring their own water/food in case services are not available. Tee times may be adjusted to up to 15-minute intervals to avoid congestion.
• All bunker rakes, ball washers, on-course water coolers and sand bottles will not be available. Bunkers will typically be played as ground under repair for disturbed areas only. Golfers are being asked to use clubs or their foot to smooth out bunkers after a shot.
• Flagsticks should remain in the hole at all times. Depending on the course, cups will either be upside down or raised so balls will not fall into the hole.
• Driving range facilities at some, not all, facilities will be available as long as social distancing requirements are practiced. Check with course officials for any additional restrictions.
PennLive and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post. PA Post is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom that covers politics and policy in Pennsylvania. Read their reporting at PaPost.org.