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Area golf courses ready, but on hold due to virus

Bryan Simonik of Edinburg and his daughter, Remy, enjoy time together on the driving range at Holland Meadows Golf Course Friday morning. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

Prior to Friday’s order to close all non-essential businesses by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, local golf courses were prepared to open with special precautionary measures in place so their patrons could enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were a few articles written that the golf course might be one of the safest places to be as long as you are using the proper guidelines,” Fox Run Golf Club owner and PGA Northeastern New York vice president Rich Scott said. “There are a lot of good things out there to help keep everybody safe like leaving the pin in, not touching the pin, putting in reverse cups so the ball doesn’t go to the bottom of the cup, and sanitizing the golf cart as it comes off the course and goes out again.”

Earlier this week, Holland Meadows Golf Course opened its driving range to the public, weather permitting.

Although the bar area was shut down, the golf simulators in the club house area and the pro shop were open for business.

“We are playing it by ear. If we are told to shut down, we must shut down,” Holland Meadows pro shop employee Ron Jablonski said on Thursday. “We are in that gray area of non-essential business but you still have guys who want to come and golf. We are day by day and sometimes hour by hour. If anybody wants to come in a golf or stay home, we get that too. Our indoor leagues are scheduled to end next week.”

The golf carts were lined up and ready to go as Hales Mills Country Club opened its course to golfers with additional precautions on Friday only to have the day cut short after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a shutdown of all non-essential businesses on Friday. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

With warm weather predicted for Friday, Hales Mills Country Club opened its course to golfers with precautions in place but shut down after the directive from the governor was announced.

“What we are hoping to do is to open with one person on a golf cart and doing some other things on the golf course that would limit people’s exposure to the virus,” Janine Dykeman said. “We would need to take steps so that people weren’t taking out the pins and so that the golf balls weren’t going into the cups as well as sanitizing the golf carts when they come back in. All those little pieces to help keep golfers safe.”

The club’s restaurant and bar area have been shut down but continue to offer take-out service for its customers.

“We are offering takeout and delivery,” Dykeman said. “The takeout we have always done but the delivery is new for us but we most certainly are offering that for customers as well. But right now, we are playing it day-by-day. Restrictions and executive orders are coming from the governor as to what businesses need to do in order to reduce the risk for their customers and staff. We most certainly want to comply with all those statutes that are coming out.”

From a business standpoint, Scott said it will be a challenge for everyone.

Remy Simonik gets tips from her father, Bryan, of Edinburg on the driving range at Holland Meadows Golf Course Friday morning. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

“That’s the issue. The chemical budget doesn’t change and the grass doesn’t stop growing,” he said. “Luckily, I have been around the industry long enough that I go to a skeleton crew and I would be on the skeleton crew. We are going to do everything we can to keep everybody employed, but I must come up with something. It is not business as usual for sure.”

With the course scheduled for a possible opening to the public next week, the mandate has put that plan on hold.

“Right now, everything is on hold,” Scott said. “We are scheduled to open for leagues around the 20th of April but our full season doesn’t typically start until the first week in May. A lot of us are going to be in trouble if we can’t start until around May. We have a tournament scheduled for May 5th and that would be a lot of lost revenue. We are on a short season already and it is going to be difficult. Expenses are going to have to be trimmed and we are going to have to think outside the box.”

Scott reflected on the situation, adding “I hope that people out there are not only taking care of themselves physically but also taking care of themselves mentally. As long as we can practice those guidelines, I don’t think there is a better place to be than on the golf course.”

The course proprietors ask that their patrons check their websites and Facebook pages regularly for updates.

Holland Meadows Golf Course stands ready for golfers but will have its opening delayed after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a shutdown of all non-essential businesses on Friday. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

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