If you’re a Philadelphia-area golfer who’s been (Bobby) Jones-ing to play again after the six-week blackout imposed by the coronavirus outbreak, you’ve got your chance.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy , lobbied for a month by golfers, course owners, and other organizations, both reversed course and lifted the prohibitions.
But you’ll find the traditional golfing experience has been altered to address lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Golf organizations in both states have issued numerous recommendations meant to insure the health and safety of golfers and course staff. While some may vary between the two states, or even from course to course, here are some general answers to questions you might have:
How will the pre-round routine differ?
Tee times should be made online or over the phone. To insure that golfers don’t congregate around the first tee, intervals between groups should be at least 15 minutes. Foursomes will be permitted in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey urges that groups be limited to two players.
Putting greens and other practice areas will be closed. Golfers should not arrive at courses until shortly before their scheduled rounds. Players should prepay online. Where online payment is not available, some form of touchless-payment method should be offered.
Can I use a caddy? What about carts?
Caddies are prohibited. Golf carts will be allowed, but there will be no sharing – each golfer must ride in his or her own vehicle. Those who prefer to walk may use pull carts where available.
What about shared equipment?
All course staff should wear protective gloves and masks. Golfers will need to handle and load their own bags and equipment. Scorecards, tees, and markers will not be provided. Rentals of clubs and other equipment will be halted.
Carts should be sanitized between rounds. Ball washers and water coolers will be disabled. Rakes will be removed from bunkers, and golfers are urged to smooth the sand with their clubs or shoes. Flagsticks should not be removed, and many courses have installed cup liners or foam inserts in the holes.
Do social-distancing rules apply?
Yes, and courses are asked to provide signage to that effect. Golfers should also avoid handshakes and congregating before and after their rounds in parking lots.
What about clubhouses, pro shops, snack bars, and restaurants?
In short, it’s suggested that those facilities be closed to players. Clubs may permit restroom access. Pro shop equipment can be purchased online. And takeout food service will be allowed.
Staff writer Marc Narducci contributed to this article.