State health officials have ruled that golfers can still hit the links during the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Brookledge Golf Course at 1621 Bailey Road in Cuyahoga Falls is one of a few that are taking advantage of the new rule. Brookledge is set to re-open on Monday, April 13, but it will operate with many rules designed to keep golfers and golf course employees safe.
Scott Nickol, manager of golf operations at Brookledge, said his staff will monitor golfers to make sure they are following the guidelines issued by Summit County Public Health.
"Anyone who does not follow the guidelines will be asked to leave the course," stated Nickol. "We realize this is a change from how patrons normally enjoy Brookledge, but it is important to note that we take everyone's health and safety seriously, including staff, and will continue to make sure that everyone enjoys a safe experience at the course."
Golfers must make a tee time in advance, according to a post on Brookledge’s Facebook page on Friday. No walk-up play will be allowed. Brookledge can be reached at 330-971-8416.
When the city closed Brookledge due to COVID-19 last month, there were 14 part-time employees at the golf course who were laid off, according to city spokesperson Kelli Crawford-Smith.
She noted that it is "anticipated" that four to six of those employees will be called back once Brookledge opens in the upcoming week.
Golfers taking their swings at Silver Lake Country Club
Golf is being played at Silver Lake Country Club, a private course at 1325 Graham Road.
Steve Ranney, the club’s manager, said orange cones have been placed in every other spot in the parking lot so that distancing is maintained between vehicles when golfers arrive to play. He is asking golfers to go beyond the guidelines and maintain an 8-foot distance between one another. A traditional foursome is allowed to play together, but each golfer must have their own cart and keep their cart at least 8 feet from the other carts.
Ranney said tee times normally occur at 10-minute intervals, but are now happening every 18 minutes. Golfers are asked to arrive "no more than 10 minutes prior to [their] tee time," said Ranney.
Last Saturday, Ranney said he was walking out to the parking lot and asking players to remain in their car in an effort to prevent groups from gathering.
"Members were very cooperative," noted Ranney. He added golfers are not allowed inside the clubhouse, which is locked up. The driving range and the practice green are also off-limits.
"We don’t want anybody congregating," he said.
Once golfers are on the course, they will likely notice other missing items: all ball washers, trash cans and bunker rakes have been removed.
For each hole, the liner of the cup has been turned upside down so golfers do not have to reach as deep to retrieve their ball. Flag sticks should not be touched by golfers. Ranney said on busy days, a club employee will circulate around the course to make sure players are following the new rules.
Ranney said the club was recently visited by a Summit County Public Health employee for an impromptu inspection.
"I think he was pleased with what he saw," said Ranney.
When the carts are returned after each round, they are being cleaned by club employees, according to Ranney.
Ranney observed he’s pleased his club can allow its members to play golf and help keep them in a "positive" frame of mind.
"It’s great to see our families [playing on the course]," he said.
The club is offering take-out food service Wednesday through Saturday between 3 and 7 p.m.
Silver Lake Country Club can be reached at 330-688-6066.
Other area golf courses
Roses Run Country Club in Stow, 2636 N. River Road, is open for play with the following stipulations: Tee times at 15-minute intervals; paying for green fees online or over the phone in advance; all bunker rakes have been removed; all ball washers have been removed or covered.
Roses Run can be reached at 330-688-4653.
Three other public golf courses — Fox Den at 2770 Call Road in Stow, Ellsworth Meadows at 1101 Barlow Road in Hudson and Gleneagles Golf Club at 2615 Glenwood Drive in Twinsburg — are not open yet. Officials with both Fox Den and Gleneagles said they hope to open soon.
Hudson city spokesperson Jody Roberts said officials have "decided not to open Ellsworth Meadows … at this time. The safety and health of our employees and the public are critical in our decision. We do not feel we can meet the stringent safety requirements set forth by the State of Ohio to stay open."
She said officials will continue to re-evaluate the situation and "reopen the course when we feel we can safely do so.?"
Though the golf course is not open for play, visitors may use the cart paths as walking trails during the day from Monday through Friday, said Roberts.
"[Walkers] are urged to keep a 6-foot social distance and be considerate of others when passing people on the paths to not get too close," said Roberts.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.
Brookledge rules posted
Golfers will be asked to adhere to these rules at Brookledge:
1. Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days per week. All carts must be returned to the clubhouse by 6 p.m.
2. While patrons of all ages may play during business hours after 11 a.m., the Monday through Thursday tee times from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. are reserved exclusively for patrons age 60 and older.
3. Tee times are changed to every 16 minutes rather than every eight minutes.
4. Patrons are very strongly encouraged to pay ahead of time over the phone with a credit card.
5. The golf shop will be closed other then for restroom access (must maintain social distancing if coming in the clubhouse to use restrooms).
6. There will be no concession sales.
7. In case of a weather delay (frost, rain, etc.) golfers must wait in their vehicles.
8. Golfers should not arrive at the course more than 10 minutes prior to their scheduled tee time, or they should wait in their vehicle if they arrive early.
9. Golfers should not loiter before and/or after their round.
10. No more than one person per cart. Walking is allowed and encouraged.
11. Each person using a cart must pay for cart rental.
12. Each cart will be wiped down with sanitizer by staff when it’s returned to the clubhouse.
13. All practice facilities — putting green, chipping green, and driving range — will remain closed.
14. The flag stick at each hole will be left in.
15. 6-foot social distancing rules among players will apply throughout the entire round of play.
16. There will be no rakes in the bunkers.
17. Restrooms on the course will not be open for use.
18. All regular course rules remain in effect.
Brookledge can be reached at 330-971-8416.