Golf courses will be allowed to reopen and operate under Illinois' modified stay-at-home order taking effect Friday, but that comes with strict restrictions.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the statewide stay-at-home order will now be in effect through May 30, though some changes will be put in place, including modified restrictions for non-essential businesses like golf courses.
Courses will soon be able to operate “under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and when ensuring that social distancing is followed,” according to the governor.
While golfers are expected to follow social distancing measures, golf courses will be required to allow tee times to be booked online and ahead of time and no carts will be allowed during play.
Both public courses and private clubs in Illinois have been closed since late March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The courses can open as early as 6 a.m. Friday.
Here's a look at the rules:
- Require online or telephone bookings
- Players shall be grouped in twosomes
- 15 minutes between tee-times. Average tee-times are roughly 12 minutes apart. Spreading out bookings would ensure people do not congregate at tee boxes. Spacing out the tee times would also limit the number of people at the golf course.
- Signage describing operational changes including: no congregating, increased frequency of cleaning, no handshakes, and maintain social distancing between players
- No practice ranges, chipping greens, or putting greens to limit large gatherings of individuals
- No golf carts may be used on course (either owned by golf club or privately owned), except individuals with a physical disability or physical limitations that prevent them from walking the course may rent a cart from the golf club
- Only privately-owned pull carts may be utilized, rental of pull carts from the course will not be allowed
- Elevate the “bottom” of the cup: This can be done by placing the cup upside down so that the new bottom is roughly an inch below the lip of the hole. Golfers could retrieve their ball without having to put their hand in the bottom of the regular cup. Alternatively, place Styrofoam in the bottom of the cup
- Flags cannot be removed from the cup
- Clubhouses, halfway houses, and proshops shall remain closed
- Prohibit beverage and snack carts
- Courses shall operate at a minimum basic operations level of staff to limit customer and staff contact; i.e. “starter”, “course manager”, “maintenance crew”, “kitchen staff to prepare to-go only food service"
- Remove drinking water jugs and prohibit use of water fountains that are permanently affixed with signage
- Elimination of on-course and practice facility touchpoints (i.e. bag drop, benches, ball washes, bunker/sand trap rakes, rental equipment, and water coolers)
- Hand sanitizer and soap in all restrooms, including those on the course
- Restrooms shall be sanitized regularly
- No indoor events or outside tournaments
- Restaurants can remain open for takeout only; all tables and chairs removed or flipped upside down to prohibit use
- Indoor facilities may be open for minimal operations for use by golf course workers to facilitate the outdoor recreation footprint and activity
- Any players with any symptoms of COVID-19 should not play
- In addition, any players from a household with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 should not play
- Golfers must walk and carry own clubs; no caddies.
- Bring your own supply of balls, tees, ball markers, and any other equipment needed to play golf
- Insist on social distancing on tees, greens, and throughout the round
- Players shall maintain adequate physical distancing between other twosomes.
- Golfers should pick up their own ball
- Handle your own scorecard
- Bring your own water/sports drink, towel, and snack
- Do not use the public drinking fountain or ball cleaner
- Leave the flag in place while putting
- Sort out the sand in the bunker with a club
- Put on your golf shoes at your vehicle
- Bring hand sanitizer with you and use during your round and at the end
- No handshakes at the beginning of the round or at the 18th hole
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