CEDAR RAPIDS — Most golf courses in the Cedar Rapids metro were open for play Tuesday.
The plan is to remain that way until advised otherwise.
The courses enacted extra safety measures and altered their business practices, attempting to limit the risk to players and staff in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest thing is we’re monitoring what other courses do around the area as well as nationally,” City of Cedar Rapids Golf Service Interim Manager and Merchandise Coordinator Dave Roe said. “I’ve been in contact with the Iowa PGA office, trying to get a feel for what’s happening in Iowa. They were telling me that they didn’t know of anybody (Monday) that had shut down in Iowa.
“PGA of America sends updates to pros of what to do and how to keep people safe.”
Gardner has been running for about a week. Roe said Ellis still is scheduled to open Monday. The availability of Twin Pines and Jones will depend on the current situation.
“We’re operating as limited services,” Roe said. “More or less, it’s tee times. One group comes in, goes out and plays.”
Food and drink are limited to prepackaged items, like chips, candy bars and bottled pop. The clubhouse is open to use the restroom, but congregating is discouraged. Staff has increased how often items frequently used items are cleaned and potential hazards have been removed.
“We’re trying to keep people out of the clubhouse other than check-in,” Roe said. “We’re cleaning things every 20 to 30 minutes, like keypads, touchpoint stuff, carts, seats and steering wheels. We’re not putting ball washers, water coolers or sand trap rakes on the course. Nothing that people touch regularly.”
For the most part, sports has come to a standstill, trying to mitigate the spread of the virus. Officials have emphasized social distancing and avoiding large groups. Roe said people took to the course Tuesday, looking to get golf in during spring break and before lower temperatures expected for the weekend.
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“I was out at Gardner and it’s like a weekend out there,” Roe said. “People wanting to do things and it’s the only thing in town, now.”
Similar to Gardner, Hunters Ridge Golf Course, St. Andrews Golf Club and Airport National were all open Tuesday.
St. Andrews closed its clubhouse to the public, allowing only players checking in for rounds. Hunters Ridge’s clubhouse is for minimal business transactions only. Management took additional steps to discourage loitering.
“We have taken the tables out of the pro shop, so people can’t sit in here and hang out,” Hunters Ridge Golf Professional Nate Severin said. “It’s just for using the restroom, grabbing a soda and then going back outside.”
Airport National posted an update online. Players have access to the 27-hole course and its driving range. The course closed its miniature golf course, noting it is too hard to maintain the recommended 6-foot distance between individuals.
The course also offered some hints for safety, like putting to within feet of the cup and leaving in the flag pin, abstaining from handshakes and high-fives and routinely washing hands. Staff also mentioned carts, keys, range buckets and surfaces in the clubhouse and pro shops will be constantly sanitized.
Roe said the public courses won’t be impacted much by the cancellation of prep golf seasons, adding business this time of year is day-to-day due to unpredictable spring weather.
Severin said he has been in contact with the Marion City Manager, Mayor and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He said he expects this to be the norm until told otherwise.
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“There’s no restriction for outdoor activity as of this (Tuesday) morning,” Severin said. “Until something like that happens where you’re going to be forced to close everything, the course, as far as I know, will remain open. Just the inside stuff is very restricted and limited.”
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