GOLF: Nevada County golf courses implement social distancing rules as golfers return in bunches |

GOLF: Nevada County golf courses implement social distancing rules as golfers return in bunches

Whether it’s a desire to play a sport they enjoy, a need to get in some outdoor exercise or simply having some extra time on their hands, golfers are back on courses across Nevada County as California begins to ease its stay-at-home order.

“It’s been busier than I’ve ever seen here,” said Alta Sierra Country Club Head PGA Golf Professional Brian Glosser. “People are stuck at home and people want to get out. And, people are. They are getting out and enjoying our golf course.”

Alta Sierra Country Club was one of the few courses locally that has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but others which have been closed for more than a month have started to reopen.

The Lake Wildwood Golf Course, which was closed from March 24 to May 1, reopened and was greeted by eager golfers looking to get tee it up.

“Overall people have been so happy that we’re open,” said Jim Knight, Lake Wildwood’s Head PGA Golf Professional. “We were so busy Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Everybody wanted to come out and play golf.”

Busy local courses didn’t surprise longtime PGA Professional and golf columnist John Renslow.

“There’s a couple of different factors for that,” he said. “One, generally they would normally be working right now, so not only are an X-amount of businesses not in operation and people have more time, but also this is one of the outlets they have that they can do outdoors.”

Golf is among the few sports that can be played with no person-to-person contact and it offers very few opportunities for overlapping tool use, which makes it a viable option for many looking for safe competition and outdoor exercise during the pandemic.

“You have your own ball, your own bag and a golf course is over 120 acres of space,” Renslow said. “On any given hole you can spread out. You might get a little closer together when you come to the end of a hole.”

Course staff at local facilities said they have solutions for that as they have implemented social distancing policies and taken steps to ensure a safe experience for golfers.


“Right when (the COVID-19 pandemic) started, we started talking about what we needed to do as a business to stay open,” said Glosser.

Local establishments like Alta Sierra Country Club and Nevada County Country Club as well as the courses at Lake Wildwood and Lake of the Pines are offering access to just the golf course and driving range, and have left their facility’s pro shops, bars and restaurants closed.

On the course, flag sticks are remaining planted with written warnings asking golfers not to touch or remove. The hole cups have been altered to allow for easier and safer ball retrieval. Golf ball washers and water fountains have been covered and sand trap rakes have also been removed from the equation.

Tee times are being separated more so than before and courses are asking golfers to call ahead and pay with a credit card over the phone if possible. Groups are being limited in size and golfers are being asked to stay six feet away from each other while on the course. More space is being allotted between golfers on the driving range as well.

Several courses have halted golf cart rentals for now, and those renting them have one-person-per-cart mandates, except for family members who share the same household. Glosser said the carts at Alta Sierra are being sanitized before and after each use.

At Lake Wildwood they are not currently renting carts, but that doesn’t seem to be a major issue for its members, according to Knight.

“Were fortunate that about 90% of our members have their own cart and we’re asking them to stay one-per-cart, unless they are a couple living with each other,” he said. “We’re really encouraging walking, and a lot of people are walking which is great.”

The Lake of the Pines Golf Course, which was closed for nearly a month, has also closed its pro shop to walk-ins and stopped cart rentals, but is allowing members to use private carts.

In addition to the previously mentioned social distancing protocols, Lake of the Pines has posted signage all over their course meant to educate golfers on how to “stop-the-spread,” said interim General Manager Sean Bothelio.


Even though courses have been busy of late, those that were closed for an extended period of time are feeling a financial hit.

“Well it hurts, definitely,” said Kelly Runkel, PGA Professional and General Manager at Nevada County Country Club. “But one thing is we do have dues-paying members, so that definitely helped us.”

Runkel said Nevada County Country Club had been closed to the public for more than a month before reopening last week. He noted, some members still played the course during the past month, but there wasn’t any staff at the facility.

Knight estimated the Lake Wildwood course lost about $30,000 in revenue.

“It probably set us back $5,000 in tournament revenue and probably another $25,000 in green fee revenue,” he said. “It was a hit to our budget. The golf course maintenance continued to work the whole time. We did our aerification. They continued to have their crew come out and make sure the fairways and greens looked really good. So, we didn’t have any revenue coming in and still had the expenses going out. But, we knew it was the right thing to do.”


Each course has taken its own approach when it comes to availability to the public.

Alta Sierra Country Club is open to the public any time during its hours of operation.

“I want everyone to know we run a safe place here and everything we’re doing is for the public to come on out, have fun and play golf,” Glosser said of Alta Sierra’s course. “We are in great shape and we’d love everyone to come out.”

Nevada County Country Club is allowing only members to play in the mornings, and is open to the public after noon.

Courses at Lake Wildwood and Lake of the Pines are open to members only and closed to the public for now.

Course representative said they will be paying close attention to the Nevada County Health Department guidelines as they go forward.

“We’re very happy we’re open and we want to make sure our community feels safe,” said Knight. “I really think golf can be a safe sport in this time if everybody follows the social distancing rules.”


COVID-19 protocols strain Nevada County homeless shelter’s budget

Tenants, landlords arrange payment options during COVID-19 eviction ban

Patchwork of tenant protections intact for now

The high cost of homelessness in Nevada County

Nevada City collaborates with county and nonprofits to move campers off Sugarloaf Mountain

Nevada County housing market sees increased demand, limited inventory

‘I may have now but I might not tomorrow’: No uptick in Nevada County homelessness amid COVID-19, but future concerns linger

Nevada County graduates consider options in wake of COVID-19

Nevada County students receive more than $800,000 in scholarships

Graduating seniors in Nevada county weigh financial, academic concerns for college

Career education program adapts to meet needs of students

‘I just want to play’: Players, coaches, ADs and officials eye safe, speedy return of high school sports

‘Should I jump into a career?’ Many questions remain for students, teachers and administrators as the future draws nearer

Nevada County middle schoolers, high school underclassmen unsure what to expect next year

Support systems for Nevada County teens go virtual during pandemic

Sierra College summer enrollment not slowing

‘The best they could’: Nevada County Superintendent of Schools reflects on the school year, ponders what’s to come this fall

‘I can’t see the bottom now’: Administrators consider where and whether to make layoffs amid revenue shortage

‘These kids want to ball’: Youth sports organizations grapple with tough decisions regarding COVID-19 safety

Hamstrung: Nevada County summer sports scene hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County theaters go dark for the year

Movie theaters struggle to cover rent, utilities in an industry that typically operates with narrow profit margin

‘Planning for all of it’: Nevada City Film Festival moves online for this year’s event

Nevada County’s music festivals look to virtual events to build community, recoup finances

For Nevada County musicians, the show goes online

Nevada County artists adapt, host online galleries, concerts and workshops

Street fair cancellations in Nevada City, Grass Valley a huge economic hit

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

Who’s zooming whom? Creativity among Nevada County artists in the pandemic era

Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

Nevada County nonprofit funding in jeopardy

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Nevada County’s thrift stores move ahead with reopening

Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead


Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email or call 530-477-4232.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User