Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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30 Mar
2020

Golf takes a hit from COVID-19

Written by Bob Oliver

 

The embargo on golf by Governor Wolf in response to the COVID-19 situation has shuttered Keystone State courses for the last two weeks.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania as well as 17 other states have prohibited play at golf courses in their state according to the National Golf Foundation.  Some other states have partial restrictions, while 28 states allow golf to be played.  It's a very fluid situation, and changes are being made on a daily basis. 

Delaware has allowed its courses to remain open. The state open for play that is closest to Bucks County golfers, however, had a change this afternoon announced from the governor's office. Delaware courses will no longer be able to book tee times from non-Delaware residents. It is unclear how walk ups or those without "papers" will be handled. 

The NGF survey of more than 1000 member courses found that as of March 27, 2020, approximately 74 percent of the nation's golf courses remain open.  That's of little solace to Bucks County golfers who are hours away from places to play. 

The southern half of the United States allow play for the most part as even hard-hit COVID-19 states like Louisiana have not formally closed courses on a statewide basis. Many counties in Ohio continue to allow play. The Arizona governor today proclaimed golf “essential” and continues to allow play   

Having said that, golf courses in 87 percent of facilities have closed/restricted its inside dining room areas, and nearly 30% have closed access to clubhouse facilities. A quarter of those surveyed have closed or restricted access to pro shop.

The NGF survey found that 65 percent of club operators described the COVID-19 problem as having a significant effect or more on its operations. 

Surprisingly the winter months had been pointing to a superb resurgence in the game. Rounds played increased dramatically year-over-year in the months of January and February.  

Golfers who were considering purchase of new equipment have put such purchases on hold, according to the NGF survey as they monitor the virus. 

For Bucks County golfers, hunker down. There's no meaningful golf in the near future, but with some luck it won't be long before you'll be back on the course. In the meantime remember the social distancing recommendations from the government. Always practice good hygiene such as washing hands, refraining from touching face and disinfect items and surfaces as much as possible. 

Be safe, be careful and think about a future return to normalcy. 

CHIP SHOTS:  While Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued a "stay at home" order, he includes golf as an "Essential service" exemption. "We do not want people to feel trapped or isolated in their homes," explained the governor. The Cactus women's tour continues competition. This is the tour LPGA star Anna Nordqvist won on two weeks ago....Speaking off the record, a source close to the LPGA's ShopRite Classic says it is "highly doubtful" the 2020 event will be held. in late May. Time will tell...A petition to reopen some courses in New Jersey is in the process of being developed in hopes Gov. Murphy loosens restrictions on play.    

27 Mar
2020

Coping without golf

Written by Bob Oliver

 

These are obviously trying times.  The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll, and people are worried about its fangs.  Rightfully so.

Yet in a time of business shutdowns, social distancing, quarantines and such there are several givens in preventions.  Like washing hands endlessly and not rubbing your face.  Avoiding discretionary travel. Work from home if possible.

Golfers lament time away from the course, playing the game they love, as governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland have shuttered golf courses. At last count 21 states have closed golf courses, while 28 states remain open for play.  One state, Alaska, is closed but snow has a way of keeping players off the course.

Linfield National's Rob Kloeckner, a Neshaminy grad, has petitioned the state for a waiver to no avail.  So have three course operators from the Pittsburgh area.   

Delaware Courses are open for the most part, with social distancing guidelines (one to a cart, or no motorized carts at all, locked pro shops, no toughing flagsticks, etc.) in place as safety is important. One owner operator in Delaware said business has been brisk with the closure of courses in neighboring states. 

Near all courses are being maintained as the closures have not ended caring for course work, so once a handle on the virus is fixed openings could come fast, especially in less populated areas. 

Patience required.

If you want to keep the muscles working, the Mad Golfer in Southampton is open for self service practice. 

For my golf fix I recently watched a replay of the 2019 Masters Tournament. Spoiler alert, a guy in a red shirt did pretty well.