WOBURN — With the COVID-19 outbreak in full bloom nationally and sporting events having been brought to a complete standstill, it is hoped that playing golf can bring some relief.
As the “Stay-At-Home” Advisory restrictions continue throughout the state, which includes the closure of non-essential businesses like golf ordered by Governor Charlie Baker through May 4, golf pros along with area golfers have filed a petition on www.change.org.
The petition, which has garnered 23,710 signatures in less a span of a week, was created with the hopes that golf courses throughout the state be opened sooner than May 4. The petition calls for that golf courses be open under certain modifications.
Modifications include that club houses will not be open along with no uses of flagsticks. Other restrictions on the course include that holes will be placed two inches above the ground or inverted so no one touches the hole.
In addition, no golf carts will be allowed while walking is encouraged.
Other restrictions include that tee time intervals should be less no less than 12 minutes between groups.
The restriction list also notes that clubs should encourage online payments in order to limit interaction between course staff and customers while avoiding congregation in and around the clubhouse.
The petition also notes that players are also prohibited from congregating on the putting green or driving range before or prior to their round. When rounds are completed, customers must go directly to their vehicles while adhering to all Center of Disease Control guidelines relating to responsible social distancing.
One final restriction on the petition that has been submitted to Gov. Baker will enforce that no bunker rakes or ball washers will be used thtat would help eliminate more possible ways the coronavirus could be passed on the golf course.
While many avid golfers and golf courses, have signed on the petition, Woburn Country Club Golf Pro Peter Bracey is hopeful, that the golf courses will be opened by Monday, May 4.
“If people follow the social distancing guidelines and are able to follow proper protocol, then maybe we’ll be able to open on May 4th,’’ said Bracey. “We’ve been up and ready to go, but at the same time, we have no choice to adhere to the stay-at-home advisory that Governor Baker has implemented on the state.”
Woburn Country Club was slated to open on April 2, but when all non-essential businesses were shut down, it remains closed until May 4, barring any further restrictions.
According to Bracey, if the course opens on May 4, when the ban may be lifted, Woburn Country Club will be only a month behind schedule.
“Of course, not being open in April has definitely hurt us, as well as other golf courses around the state,’’ said Bracey. “Everyone is taking a hit financially, but at the same time we’re all under the same order by Governor Baker. If the order is lifted sooner than May 4th for golf courses to be open, we’ll be ready for business. Until then, we’re going to have to wait it out and see what happens.”
During the closure, Bracey, along with Woburn Country Club Superintendent Jeff Power, have been patrolling the course to ensure that no golfers are able to have access to the course during the closure.
“The pro shop is closed and everything is closed at the course right now,’’ said Bracey. “We’ve been up there (Woburn Country Club) on a regular basis and patrolling the golf course on golf carts to make sure that no one is using our facilities when they’re closed. It’s OK to do some social distance walking as well as taking your dog for walk. You can jog on the (outskirts) on the course, as long as you’re not in groups.”
While Bracey acknowledges that most people in the area have absolved the social distancing regulations, he’s also well aware that it’s not a perfect situation.
“It’s been pretty empty around (Woburn), but you still have some kids around playing (basketball) and other sports here and there,’’ said Bracey. “We’ve also had some instances where we’ve had to escort golfers off the course and it’s a very difficult situation. I’m hoping that people will abide by the rules, because if they don’t then these businesses, including ours, are going to be closed longer.”
Under the current mandate, which Bracey hopes that will expire on May 4th, Bracey is hopeful that Woburn Country Club won’t be too affected on a financial basis when the Stay-at-Home Advisory is eventually lifted.
“We won’t be too affected by it, but if the Stay-At-Home Advisory is extended into June, then we’re going to have some huge issues,” said the Woburn pro. “We have things planned in the (summer), and we’re hoping it won’t have to go that long. We’re hoping we can end this sooner than later.”
Bracey is hopeful that the message of staying home, and social distancing practices that’s been preached by local and state officials will pay dividends within the next month.
“People have to take this seriously,’’ said Bracey. “It’s a pandemic and everyone needs to take the necessary measures to protect themselves and others from getting this virus. If we’re able to do this, and help stop the spread, then hopefully we’ll be able to open on May 4.”