Local golf courses re-open as PA takes its first tentative steps toward normalcy
While every aspect of our lives has been affected by the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s fair to say some have been impacted more than others.
Athletics has been hit particularly hard at every level. From Little League and Missy Softball to the MLB and NBA, sports that would normally be at the forefront have been relegated to back-burner status.
This past weekend, though, Pennsylvania took a first small step along the long and winding path back to normalcy.
Governor Tom Wolf announced that golf courses would be allowed to reopen, provided they adhere to a rigorous policy of social distancing.
New rules have been put in place that apply to tee times, golf carts, caddies, flags and bunker rakes.
These regs are fairly radical for a sport that seems to change at a glacial pace. However, they don’t appear to be slowing things down locally as golfers from all over Wayne County rush to get back out on their favorite courses.
“People are pretty excited,” said Collin Ennis who was manning the outdoor sign-in table Tuesday afternoon at Honesdale Golf Club.
Nattily clad in crisp collared shirt, baseball cap and requisite face mask, Collin reported that HGC has been very busy since the green light was finally given.
“We were originally going to reopen on Friday, but the rain pushed everything back,” he said. “We has about 80 golfers on Saturday and 100 on Sunday.”
According to Ennis, the local links was on its way to yet another banner turnout Tuesday, a fact that local legend Bob Simons fully anticipated.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Simons who is hoping to celebrate his golden anniversary as head golf coach at Wallenpaupack Area this fall.
“Folks are really anxious to get outside and do something. We’re all trying to make the best of a tough situation and this is a step in the right direction.”
Back in Action
Simons has been a fixture on the local links scene for decades.
In addition to being a member of several Halls of Fame, Bob is also the winningest high school golf coach in PIAA history.
Over the years, he’s captured numerous club championships and served in just about every administrative capacity imaginable.
Currently, Simons serves as HGC’s Greens Chairman and head of the Tournament Committee. As such, he’s well-versed in all the new rules and regulations.
“We’re working very hard to follow all of the guidelines,” Bob said. “The Pro Shop is closed and so is the dining room. The kitchen is open and food is available for takeout.”
On-course changes meant to combat spread of COVID-19 and encourage social distancing include...
‒One person per cart
‒Fifteen minutes between tee times
‒Flags remain in place at all times
‒No rakes in bunkers
‒One bag per person
‒No sharing clubs
Both Ennis and Simons related that there don’t seem to be any issues with golfers following the new rules.
“As I said, everyone is just happy to be back out there playing again,” Bob said. “The course is in great shape thanks to all the hard work Chris Moran and his crew have done. They deserve a big thank you.”
While things have started off modestly for the course that traces its history back more than a century, Simons is hopeful that the summer may still feature bigger events.
“We’re really hoping that the situation improves to the point that we can have the Member-Guest,” he said of the marquee tourney held each year over Fathers Day Weekend.
“I’m optimistic that the restrictions will ease up by then. We’ve already had to cancel or postpone some of our biggest events and that’s very sad.”
For now, though, HGC officials are doing the best they can with what they have. Men’s and women’s events remain on the calendar and optimism is running high.
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Honesdale Golf Club
121 Golf Hill Road
PO BOX 573
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: (570) 253-5616
Fax: (570) 616-4650
Honesdale Golf Club is a 501(c)(7) nonprofit organization.