Golf Courses Still Open in West Virginia, Ohio
WHEELING — The three golf courses at Oglebay Park — Crispin, Jones and Palmer — are all open for play.
But, Danny Ackerman, Oglebay’s general manager of golf, stresses that plenty of steps have been taken to make the course, staff and players as safe as possible as everyone deals with the ongoing coronavirus-pandemic.
“What’s really, really important for owners and operators of any golf course is being dilligent to adhering to the COVID-19 rules that have been established,” Ackerman said. “And, I believe our players have been doing that.”
Both West Virginia and Ohio have kept golf courses open thus far. However, Ohio actually went back-and-forth with it for a few days.
“The last number I saw was 35 states are still allowing golf courses to be open,” Ackerman said. “It’s an outlet for people that we’re able to manage properly to keep people safe and offer a type of stress relief that could be needed.”
Oglebay has taken steps to limit its capacity.
There are days during the prime golf season when Oglebay will have between 200 and 250 rounds played on its three courses.
It’s currently shaved that to between 90 and 110 rounds by limiting the tee times.
According to Ackerman, the time between groups going off on the Jones Course is usually nine minutes and 10 on the Palmer.
While the gaps haven’t changed, Olgebay is now taking an entire tee time off after every three groups.
“We’ve essentially reduced the capacity of the golf course by 25 percent,” Ackerman said. “We’ve put in those blocks to stagger people.”
According to Ackerman, several newly implemented rules have been well-received and are working.
The changes begin immediately upon arriving at the course.
Since the golf shop is closed, when players check in to play, they’re doing so through a small window, similar to a drive through, where they complete their transaction.
And only one player from the group is permitted at the window at a time.
From there, the players receive their cart instructions, which are significantly different. Oglebay is allowing just one player per cart, but Ackerman pointed out family members are permitted to ride together.
He used the examples of husband-wife, brothers, brother-sister, father-son.
“Those (relatives) are the only exceptions to the cart rule,” Ackerman said. “We are encouraging people to walk and/or use a push cart. That way they can get some exercise or let it serve as a stress relief, which is what getting outside is all about.”
Because twice as many carts are being utilized much of the time, per group, the aforementioned gaps in tee times has also helped to alleviate any possible cart shortage.
On the carts, the players are finding additional information with tips to remain safe throughout the round in terms of COVID-19.
On the course, players are expected to keep a social distance of at least six feet and, on the greens, the flag sticks are to remain in the cup at all times.
Oglebay has actually installed liners, made of a material similiar to swim noodles, in the cups. Those prevent the ball from falling all the way to the bottom of the hole.
“The ball will still drop, but it doesn’t go as far, so the player can basically use two fingers to get his ball and be on his way,” Ackerman said.
Players are encouraged not to share equipment on the course.
After the round, when the cart is returned, it’s cleaned with a CDC-recommended solution in all general areas where people would touch a cart.
Ackerman has been quite impressed with how the public has responded to the new rules and even gone above and beyond.
“I’ve never cleared out so many Clorox wipes from golf carts in my career,” Ackerman said. “I think, by in large, golfers are appreciative of (courses) being open and are doing their part for their own safety as well as that of others.”
Though players are being diligent and taking steps, Ackerman pointed out that “on busy days, we will have a marshal out (on the course).”
“We simply need to be mindful and make sure people are abiding by the rules.”
Though the couse is open, Oglebay, which normally hosts many tournaments and outings during the course of the golf season, isn’t scheduling any events at this point.
“We’re not doing any shotguns,” Ackerman said. “They’re all postponed or canceled. We’re not doing any because we don’t feel like we can control it well enough.”
Ackerman, like most in the country, has no idea how long these restrictions may be in place.
“The whole situation is fluid and really day-to-day,” Ackerman said. “There’s just no way to know.”