Below is a message from Bob Ward, RIGA Executive Director, with important information for golf courses about maintaining social distancing practices.
I was contacted by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations this afternoon. After a long conversation about policies, golf courses will be able to stay open through this weekend as long as we use better common sense and have rules in place that fall within the social distancing orders that the Governor is requiring.
We are all in this conversation together in the Department's eyes. Doesn't matter if you are a private club, semi-private club or public facility. They have been sent photos and videos from plenty of golf courses both public and private.
There are three major issues that need to be addressed:
1. Tee time intervals need to be restricted to no less than 12 minutes.
If you get behind on the first tee, you must have a starter who keeps people more than six feet apart from one another. If you are a non-tee time club, you must create a tee time system for this upcoming weekend.
2. Under the Governor's emergency order, golfers from out of state ARE NOT allowed to play golf until the order is lifted or they can show proof that they self quarantined for more than 14 days.
3. Most Important. There are videos of golfers hanging out in the parking lot eating, drinking and socializing after golf has ended.
You MUST have an employee available to keep the parking lot area clear once people finish playing golf. I would suggest you email your golfers and let them know that if they want to order food, they must call when playing the last hole, pick it up to go and then immediately leave the property.
I would suggest shutting down putting greens, chipping areas and ranges. These are the areas where golfers usually congregate before they play golf.
The State of Rhode Island will have people traveling to golf courses this weekend checking things out. If we do not comply with these requests, the Governor will shut down all golf courses on Monday afternoon.
Please use good common sense the rest of this week and moving forward. Post signs, email your golfers, have them pay by credit card, limit one cart per person or walking only and take all the necessary steps (including sanitary) to ensure they don't shut us down.
Use the guidelines sent to us by the USGA for playing under these social distancing rules.
I will say I have received many calls and emails this week on both sides of the fence. I know that some clubs have already put good policies in place and have enforced social distance rules. Please keep up the good work and hopefully we have a better weekend. Please remember that your employees are being put at risk and feel uncomfortable with certain situations that are going on Use good judgement not only with golfers but with your employees also.
As an aside, I'm only the messenger not the guy making the rules. I'm communicating a message, if someone shows up at your club this weekend and things don't look favorable to our industry and the safety practices the Governor requires, we will all be shut down on Monday afternoon.
Rhode Island Golf Association