Ohio golf courses can remain open after state reverses decision

Hole No. 16 at Locust Hills. Staff photo by David Jablonski

Golf courses in Ohio may remain open during the coronavirus pandemic after the Ohio Department of Health reversed its position this weekend.

That doesn't mean every course in the Miami Valley will be open for business this week. Many closed on various dates in March. Some remained opened until the Ohio Department of Health deemed them non-essential businesses on Thursday, ruling they would have to remain closed until April 6.

Steve Jurick, executive director of the Miami Valley Golf Association, recommended golfers call courses to see if they’re open. He said whether they remain open depends on their local health department, which “is the ultimate ruler when it comes to individual operations.”

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According to the Northeast Ohio Golf Association, the Ohio Department of Health sent an email to local health departments on Saturday night, saying courses can remain open as long as they adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

This is a statement golf courses were given: “If your golf course is operating as an outdoor recreation opportunity and abiding by all of the order’s social distancing requirements, there is likely not a health concern. However, if the golf course is operating other businesses as part of the operations (restaurants, clubhouse, spa, driving range, putting and practice greens, etc), then you should be prepared to explain why you deem those business operations essential. Remember, if you are running an essential business, you have a responsibility to make sure that physical distancing and other protective measures are being adhered to.”

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Jurick doesn’t expect local health departments to make their own rulings on the state’s order right away.

“That could take days,” he said. “It could take longer than that because frankly the health departments have a lot on their plates. Golf is not that important. They may be handling other issues.”

If or when local courses reopen, Jurick expects them to make adjustments to how they handle tee times, spacing them out by 10 minutes or so to ensure golfers aren’t grouped close together.

“They’re doing everything they possibly can to make this happen,” he said.

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