If James Moore answered the phone once, he must have answered it 50 times. Calls poured in to the Frenchman’s Bend Golf Club in Monroe checking the status of the weekly “chicken game” tournament, a popular attraction for members and part-time hackers alike.
The “chicken game” is on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but like many golf clubs in the area, Frenchman’s Bend has taken precautions to stay open.
“We’re doing everything we can to sanitize as much as possible and limit the number of people in one place,” said Moore, the director of golf at Frenchman’s Bend.
“Maybe we’re overdoing it, but you have to right now and we’re going to do everything possible to keep everyone safe.”
Along with disinfecting, the Frenchman’s Bend staff is checking in golfers outside instead of in the golf shop. Cart use has been restricted to one per person, water coolers have been removed from the course, placed liners inside each hole to prevent golf balls from touching the bottom of the cups and asked golfer to putt with the flagsticks in.
Frenchman’s Bend has also closed its health club, limited the restaurant to takeout orders only and required members to remove their golf clubs from the locker room.
Similar measures are in place at Calvert Crossing Golf Club in Calhoun. Owner Todd Perry has taken these safeguards a step further by removing all racks, trash can lids and common touch points from the course and assigning members who play daily to the same cart.
“We’re working with the Louisiana Golf Association, our state representatives and the Governor’s office to determine the best way for us to operate,” Perry said. “The goal is to make sure our members have a safe, healthy and clean environment and we’re always tweaking it and thinking about what else we need to do as the situation changes.”
Louisiana is one of the states hit hardest with COVID-19 cases. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to free up federal funding and other assistance for the state. The Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed 1,388 total cases of COVID-19 in 43 of the state’s 64 parishes and 46 deaths.
The City of Monroe closed the public courses at Forsythe Park and Chennault Park following the stay-at-home order issued by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Sunday, which runs until April 12.
Bayou Desiard Country Club in Monroe and Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant remain open but have closed club houses and suspended cart services.
“We’re had a good amount of members walk the course and play,” Squire Creek director of Golf Brad Pullin said. “Our plan is to target that (April 12) date to open back up and see what we’re allowed to do. We’ve been sharing ideas with other clubs in our region and many of them are taking similar precautions.”
Edwards has encouraged Louisianians to go outside and stay active but practice social distancing during the stay-at-home ordinance. Under those circumstances, a golf course seems ideally suited for both tasks.
“We’re going to get past this crisis and my hope is we can help our members keep a little sense of normalcy,” Perry said.
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