Need to get out of your house? You can still play golf | Sports
Golf is essential.
On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s “safer home” executive order and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s “stay at home” executive order both designated several recreational activities as essential.
Among them, golf.
Many people think that a golf course is as safe a place as you can be today, given the large green spaces and the fresh air. Of course, golfers, like everyone else, have been urged to take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
âGolf is one of the few events you can do that feels safe,â said Hal McHorris, a local golf enthusiast and director of the Upper East Tennessee Seniors Golf League. âIt’s fantastic because, as you know, it’s either walking down the street with your wife or riding a bike on your own. I’ll tell you the truth, I saw more people outside during this than before.
âI think people are crazy and they want to go out and move around. They keep the separation as requested.
One local route that was not aided by Lee’s order was the Kingsport’s Warriors Path, which is part of the Tennessee State Park System. All state park courses were closed last Thursday with a tentative reopening date of April 10.
Warriors Path personnel are authorized to maintain the course while it is closed.
Other courses may remain open at their discretion, but are advised to take safety precautions, including increasing the disinfection of golf carts and ensuring that patrons do not congregate in groups.
Some courses do not allow players to ride together, giving each their own carts. With a new USGA rule installed last year, players are allowed to putt with the flag. This reduces the need to touch the stick.
Other courses remove the rakes so players don’t have to touch them. Golfers are encouraged to use their feet to smooth their footprints in the sand.
Cups are something else. Hundreds of balls go into the hole daily on a busy course, which means hundreds of hands go in as well.
The courses try to help in different ways. Some filled the hole partly with cut styrofoam so the bullet couldn’t go so deep, keeping people’s hands out of the holes. Others have installed the cups upside down and partially protrude from the ground, so the ball cannot enter at all. A putt that hits the cup is considered a hole.
While not ideal, most golfers feel that the changes outweigh the alternative of closing the courses.
âWhat we have to do is if you hit him and we think he would have come in, he went in,â said McHorris, who plays at Ridgefields Country Club. âWe have to be liberal in this situation.
McHorris continues to play every day he can – he’s 79 and rarely shoots above his age – but his senior golf league has been on hold since hosting the first event of the season at McDonald Hills.
âWe hated to do it, but we had to do it,â he said. âA high percentage of our members are in the risk category. “
The 55+ golf league had 260 members last year with participants from Knoxville to Big Stone Gap. It is not uncommon for more than 100 golfers to participate in an event. Tournaments take place on Mondays and Thursdays on local courses.
McHorris took over the leadership of the late Ralph Hudson league.
âI give Ralph Hudson credit for being who he is right now,â said McHorris, who has won numerous tournaments over the years. âRalph made a bunch of changes that I think really encouraged a lot of people to come into the league. Ralph was like a dictator. He had a committee, but he used to say he was a benevolent dictator.
Hudson relaxed the rules to make it easier for seniors to shoot good scores. He also persuaded courses to allow players to bundle gift certificates at the end of the year so they don’t have to scour the map to spend their winnings.
The Seniors Golf League hopes to resume the course next month. May 11 is the tentative date.
âHopefully we can get started then,â McHorris said. âI think what happens between now and then is up to who knows. It could get a lot better or it could get a lot worse. “
Activities deemed essential in Tennessee
â¢ To swim
â¢ Sports or recreational activities that can be practiced while respecting the precautions or using public parks and outdoor recreation areas
REMARK: Gathering or playing on playgrounds poses a unique risk of spreading the novel coronavirus and is not considered an essential activity.