Vermonters shut in by the COVID-19 pandemic are now free to pursue many of their favorite non-contact outdoor hobbies so long as they maintain social distancing.
Gov. Phil Scott recently issued new guidelines that eased restrictions on outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, fishing, boating, golf, and tennis. That was good news for the operators of Central Vermont’s golf courses, even though the guidelines will change the way players will experience the game.
Under Phase 1 of the governor’s park, play, and leave strategy, Vermont golf courses will be open to in-state residents only (or out-of-state residents who attest they have completed a 14-day quarantine). Groups of no more than four players can tee off in 15-minute increments and only one person is allowed in each golf cart (two if they reside in the same household). Tee times and payment must be made by phone or online. Clubhouses are closed but pro shops might reopen soon under the restrictions set for the reopening of retail stores. Flagsticks must remain in the hole and foam spacers have been added inside the hole so that balls can be retrieved without touching the flag. Likewise, rakes have been removed from sand traps.
Golfers who have been cooped up all winter seem to be taking the changes in stride, according to Lynn Ribolini, manager of the Montpelier Elks Country Club.
“It’s great to be able to be open and out there,” Ribolini said. “With all the guidelines we have to follow the members have been great so far. They just want to get back out there.”
The biggest challenge is managing the club’s 13 golf carts, he said, especially with only one occupant permitted. Carts must be sanitized after each round before they can go out again.
“We have 13 golf carts and with the stipulation that we can only have one person per cart it pinches our inventory,” Ribolini said. “So we encourage people to walk.”
Ribolini said the club has added at least 12 new members under its $399 special.
Club activities such as league play and tournaments are on hold and could be allowed under the next phase of the state order. Otherwise, there is no reason for golfers not to go out and spoil a good walk.
“Golf is something that you can police social distancing pretty well,” Ribolini said. “You’re not that close in the game of golf—unless you’re in a cart.”
Area Golf Courses
Montpelier Elks Country Club
Country Club of Barre
Northfield Country Club
Blush Hill Country Club (Waterbury)
Copley Golf Club (Morrisville)