AUGUSTA — While announcing plans to reopen the state’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Janet Mills outlined how the state’s golf courses could open as soon as this Friday, May 1.
The first stage of the Governor’s four-stage plan “continues the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people, the quarantine of all people entering or returning to Maine for a period of 14 days, and the special precautions for older Mainers and others at risk of COVID-19” and would begin May 1.
Among a variety of businesses and activities that could resume as soon as Friday are guided outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing, and the restricted use of golf and disc golf courses.
Physical distancing measures would still have to be maintained by the aforementioned businesses.
As of publishing time, none of the area’s golf courses have announced any plans for a reopening.
“The Maine State Golf Association has worked hard with state officials in Augusta to propose a broad set of changes that will keep the game safe yet still enjoyable as we move forward,” the Maine State Golf Association said in a statement. “These changes include protocols that affect a golfer’s experience from arrival to departure, all made while keeping the safety of players and employees in mind, while still allowing golfers to be able to enjoy the game.”
The Rockland Golf Club had spent less than a week open in March, before Governor Mills implemented her stay at home mandate.
“While clubs are able to open their doors this Friday to resume the golf season, it is important to note that things will not be the same as they have been in years past, and we may have a ‘new normal’ for the first part of the golf season,” the MSGA said. “Nearly every operation at our clubs has been affected by COVID-19, including the pro shop, maintenance work, and food & beverage operations. You will notice that some of these operations are either minimal or non-existent, and they may continue to be for some time. What’s important though, for the time being while we adjust how golf can adapt with public safety in mind, is that the golf course itself is open for play and can be used again as a safe way to seek a healthy physical and mental respite during these times.”
As part of its support for the Friday opening of golf courses, the MSGA is announcing a new Park, Play and Go Home initiative.
The Park, Play and Go Home initiative includes three parts:
1. Reserve tee time in advance, and arrive at the course only 10 minutes ahead of tee time.
2. Tee off and enjoy a round of golf while maintaining social distancing.
3. Leave the course immediately after playing to eliminate congestion at the facility.
“We know that there are certain parts of the club that you will miss during the start of the season,” the MSGA said. “We all want to hit a bucket of balls before we play, high five our partner after dropping a long putt for birdie, and hang out at the club after the round with our golf buddies. That time will come further down the road, when we can get back to enjoying all the things that make our Maine courses the places we’ve grown to love. But for now, let’s just be grateful to be back on the green grass chasing the little white ball around with our friends. Let’s keep it simple as we move forward and just ‘Park, Play & Go Home.’ Our old normal will be back again before we know it.”
Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.