On a beautiful and warm spring day, Houston-area golfers apparently were anxious to get outdoors and found their way to the links. A number of golf courses were open on Wednesday, a day after Harris County residents were issued the “stay home, work safe” order from local leaders.
From east at Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu to west at Meadowbrook Farms in Katy, business was good. Courses like High Meadow Ranch Golf Club in Magnolia and Southwyck Golf Club in Pearland booked up quickly on tee times.
At all the courses that were open for play, staff personnel made sure they took precautions to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has swept around the world, making people cautious of their surroundings.
“We’re doing everything that we’re supposed to do,” said Casey Wade, head golf pro at High Meadow Ranch Golf Club. “We’re just happy to be open.”
Wade and others in the Houston-area golf community are going to great lengths to ensure safe conditions while also implementing social distancing.
Golfers at clubs are asked to wash hands while in the clubhouse, with no more than 10 people in the area at one time. Snack bars are reduced to carry out. Carts are being disinfected.
Out on the course, measures are being taken to provide sanitary conditions. Flagsticks for the most part have been removed from holes, or golfers are asked not to tend them. Cart keys have been removed and the cart keyed on. Rakes have been removed from bunkers and water coolers and ball washers have been taken away as well. Sand bottles on the cart have been eliminated.
BlackHorse Golf Club in Cypress is open for public play under strict safety protocols.
Meadowbrook Farms in Fort Bend County is available for play because of an amended and restated order by the County Judge. It allows individuals to engage in outdoor activity at open outdoor recreation areas provided measures are taken to comply with the necessary precautions to reduce transmission of COVID-19, including the practice of social distancing.
Cypress Lakes and Longwood were closed on Wednesday. Representatives from both clubs said they expected to re-open on Thursday.
“It’s interesting that some closed (Wednesday) and they’re deciding that they’re going to open up (Thursday),” said Steve Timms, president and CEO of the Houston Golf Association, which operates Gus Wortham Park Golf Course. Like other Houston city courses Memorial Park, Hermann Park and Sharpstown, Gus Wortham was closed on Wednesday.
“We’re closed by the directive from the parks department in accordance with the County Judge’s order that was issued. We’d like to be open. Golf by design is socially distancing.”
On Tuesday, Gus Wortham, perhaps the most walkable course in Houston, recorded just under 200 rounds.
Among the safety precautions taken at Gus Wortham is that starters are not getting within six feet of players.
Timms is hopeful Gus Wortham will re-open soon.
“Being outdoors is beneficial to people, especially in the warm weather we got today, almost 90 degrees,” Timms said. “You got to amp up the social distancing measures so that people are able to get outdoors.”
Hosting golf tournaments with large fields is out of the question for now at area courses. But courses are adhering to the rules of operation.
“For people that want to play golf, find somewhere close,” Wade said. “The deal about the coronavirus, limiting travel and limiting personal interaction. Play with people you know and don’t travel too far to play golf.”
Timber Creek Golf Club is another course that was closed on Wednesday.
“This stay at home order by the Harris and Galveston County Judges made it clear that golf courses are not essential business,” Michael Griswold, general manager of Timber Creek said. “So we are following these orders, with the safety and health of our guests, employees and the general public as our primary goal.”
Prior to Timber Creek’s closing, the club implemented safety precautions.
“I know we’re not an essential business but we’re trying to stay open,” Layne Ricks, general manager of Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club said.
Ricks and his staff are asking patrons not to pay in cash. If that’s the only method of payment, employees are wearing gloves and using hand sanitizer. Water coolers have also been taken off the course. Meadowbrook Farms is not giving receipts to take to the starter. That confirmation is relayed by electronic transmission.
“We’re doing everything we can do under the circumstances,” Ricks said.
Ricks said he hasn’t seen a big drop at Meadowbrook Farms in the number of seniors, who are at a higher risk of picking up the coronavirus.
“I see the same demographic playing golf,” Ricks said. “There were four guys yesterday, everyone was over 80, and they were in their own individual carts. We’re allowing people to walk, they don’t have to ride if they don’t want to.”
Eagle Pointe in Mont Belvieu had 78 players on its course on Tuesday.
“I think all golf courses should be open to some degree,” Jeff Strong, general manager at Eagle Pointe said. “You’re 100 yards away from the next group that you are in front of. They can’t get to 10 people.
“The employees, I’m asking them, ‘are they comfortable? You don’t have to work. Do you want to work?’ That’s dropping now that the stay at home is in place. It’s changing as we go, we’ve made it as safe as we possibly can.”
Partial list of golf courses that were open for play on Wednesday.
Battleground (Deer Park); BlackHorse (Cypress); Cypresswood (Spring); Eagle Pointe (Mont Belvieu); Gleannloch Pines (Spring); Cinco Ranch (Katy); Greatwood (Sugar Land); High Meadow Ranch (Magnolia); Links at West Fork (Conroe); Magnolia Creek (League City); Meadowbrook Farms (Katy); Oakhurst (Porter); Raven Nest (Huntsville); River Pointe (Richmond); Sienna Plantation (Missouri City); Southwyck (Pearland); Wildcat;
Partial list of golf courses that were closed on Wednesday.
Bay Forest (La Porte); Gus Wortham; Hermann Park; Jersey Meadow; Memorial Park; Pasadena; Sharpstown; Timber Creek (Friendswood); WindRose.