State golf courses remain open during pandemic, must implement all state-mandated guidelines


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Ever since Gov. Cuomo issued his ban on non-essential gatherings by individuals “outside their home” last Sunday, golfers in New York have been seeking guidance on how the edict applied to their sport, and whether there was a way to permit golf during the coronavirus crisis.

They got their wish Friday when the Governor’s office and regional Empire State Development issued a clarification on last week’s ruling. 

The New York State Golf Association issued a press release: COVID-19, Impact on Golf in New York State.  It said the state will allow courses to remain open, but “must implement all CDC and state-mandated guidelines, and promote safe, social distancing.”

The state said there will be “no access” to pro shops, locker rooms, indoor facilities and restaurant/bars (unless for take-out purposes only).”

Social distancing on the golf course must include: Stay at least six feet away from others; not shaking hands before or after play; leave the flagstick in the hole; don’t share clubs or other equipment; if using a cart, limit to one person in a cart.

Golf owners had been in limbo since the initial ban on non-essential gatherings. The golf community was confused and conflicted, and looking for more direction from above. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has urged residents to use the county parks, so golfers wondered why their outdoor sport couldn’t be OK, within certain restrictions.

Last week, the USGA released a list of recommendations for golf during the coronavirus crisis. Bethpage, a state park on Long Island, was continuing to take tee times. Players were golfing at various clubs, so there was a clear need for direction from state authorities.

“That’s great,” said Rob Milbrand, who owns Holland Hills Golf Course. Milbrand had been seeking answers early in the week and grown frustrated while trying to get an answer from some government authority.

“My members are happy,” Milbrand said Friday afternoon. “I got them out there now and next week I’ll open up to the public. I told them I don’t have carts out now, but I’ll have carts next week.”

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