GET INTO GOLF: For a few hours, life was normal
For at least the next few weeks, the world as we know it is not the world as we know it. Of course, we golfers spend most of time on this earth in the great outdoors. We need our muscles to move, our nose to recognize surrounding trees, and interact with our fellow man (okay, person).
The current “stay at home” order from Governor Newsom does not include opportunities to get outside and go for a walk. Can we still exercise? Go to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block?
According to the State’s COVID-19 website (covid19.ca.gov), “Yes. So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is OK to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air.”
Have I got the place for you. Head over to the Alta Sierra Country Club.
It made me proud to be a golfer and proud to be a Californian this week. My son is attending virtual classes for school, but baseball season was cancelled. The outdoor options for an energetic 15 year-old are relatively limited.
So, I took him over to Alta Sierra this week. We could walk 18-holes (averaging around five to six miles), breathe in some fresh air, and have some fun.
The operation, business model that I saw may just be the answer for golf courses to not only remain open, but may even put themselves in a position to be profitable. Food and beverage can be the bane of any property’s existence.
That part of an operation generally loses money, yet it became a prerequisite for a golf operation model. The greater the food service (say entrée) the greater the loss. We don’t need it. It just adds to the experience.
Most of us are just fine with a burger, hot dog, or similar culinary favorite.
My son and I walked past several players on the driving range and turned the corner to the pro shop. The pro shop was not directly available (with good reason), so we made our way alongside the pro shop to the back patio.
We found Brian, the Golf Professional, on the other side of a makeshift desk unit. Several tables, aligned, which kept the 6 feet between players and staff. This layout also provided those who were new to Alta Sierra with a direction to the Cart Barn and the 1st Tee.
Brian was a one-man band. He answers the phone, collects green fees, and has a barbecue positioned directly behind him. Hungry? No problem, Brian can get you a dog and a beer. Need a dozen balls? No worries, he’s got those, too.
A bucket of balls for the driving range, roll a few putts on the practice green and we were off. For a few hours, life was normal. A father and son out for a stroll on the links.
If walking is not an option, golf carts are available. With guidelines as they are, this can be a bit tricky. Those who live under the same roof have no issues, but the course can’t pair a couple of strangers together in the same cart. You’ll need to think about that in advance.
However, in a season of life that the world hasn’t experienced in over 100 years, playing a few holes of golf with family and friends may be just the thing to enjoy and feel normal until we’re though this time of uncertainty.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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