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Precautions in place as golf courses remain open, busy

Pandemic has made local courses ramp up safety measures, but golfers still able to enjoy rounds

ST. JOHNS, Fla. – Think all sports have shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic?

Not quite.

Over 30 local golf courses remain open, with safety precautions in place as the COVID-19 crisis continues to make a mess of things across the world.

“It’s a great outlet for people to get outside. That’s why it’s really, ‘come play a friendly game,’” said Willy DeStifano, director of golf at the Golf Club of South Hampton.

Local courses have taken numerous precautions to help golfers feel safer on the course.

Many courses are putting in cups upside down so you don’t have to take your ball out of the hole. Players are encouraged to leave the flag in and not touch. Most courses have removed rakes from the bunkers and suggest using your feet to smooth the sand.

The courses that do have rakes say it is up to the golfer if they feel comfortable using it, but they aren’t required to.

“There is not too much issue with people having too many touchpoints on the course,” said Andrew Minnis, club operations manager at Julington Creek Golf Club. “You can actually go play and feel safe about it. … But everything out here has been fairly clean and sanitized as well. We feel it’s very safe for people to come play golf.”

Most courses are still two players to a cart but it has to be family or close friends to ride in the same cart. Most clubhouses are closed with golfers having access to bathrooms and most dining areas are closed.

“Everybody’s taking precautions around here but it’s fresh air it’s wonderful and you’re with your friends and it keeps your mind off things,” said local golfer Bob Pohl.