Local golf courses adapting to COVID-19

Sports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In the quarantine era, there hasn’t been much in terms of sounds in sports.

But there is one sport that is playing through.

“I just had to get out,” Local golfer Steve Oshita said. “I’ve been practicing at home, but that is not enough.”

Golf already allows for a bit of social distancing within its play. There isn’t any contact and players often aren’t in close quarters.

Still, new guidelines are in place to make it even safer for players.

“We are really glad most people are following those,” Springfield Park Board PIA Jenny Fillmer Edwards said. “That makes me really happy because then hopefully we can continue to keep these resources open.”

That differences begin before the golfers even check-in. Tee-times are booked online and there is a longer gap between groups teeing off, typical about 30 minutes. The check-in table, outside as well.

“Out here, we think we can keep you separated, away from others and at least have a chance to be outdoors,” Rivercut’s Head PGA Professional Steve King said.

But perhaps the biggest change comes in greenside. There are no rakes in the bunkers, and golf courses are asking you to not touch the flag. Instead there is a an elevated cup, or an insert in the cup to make it easier to grab your golf ball.

It helps, but it might change the way some golfers keep their scores.

“Sometimes the ball doesn’t go all the way in, sometimes you hit the hole and it bounces out,” Springfield golfer Ling Leong said. “We just count that as a made putt.”

After the round, carts are wiped down with a disinfectant solution from top to bottom. Then washed and ready for use.

In an ever-changing environment, courses are in constant communication with others in the region, including some in Kansas City and St. Louis, about how each is operating.

It’s an effort to never stop learning.

“What are you doing? What are you seeing that works? How are you handling this over that? We are making sure we are all doing it effectively and the right way,” King said.

Whatever it takes to keep the ball rolling and keep the courses open.

“We’re still keeping social distancing, but still able to relax and enjoy our day out here,” Leong said.

“I used to work at a restaurant inside, so to just get outdoors and see the flowers and trees, it’s beautiful,” Oshita said. “You just take your mind away.”

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