State golf courses can remain open with certain restrictions

State officials announced on Wednesday that golf courses can remain open with restrictions.

The Connecticut State Golf Association received an update from David Lehman, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

The CSGA asked for clarification after Gov. Ned Lamont ordered that all non-essential businesses close by Monday night. It stated in an email that the temporary closures include golf courses and encouraged membership to comply with the governor's order.

Several area golf courses, including Shennecossett in Groton, Stonington Country Club and Norwich Golf Course, decided to remain open and took numerous steps to protect their members, customers and employees.

"There's only so many things that people can do in this COVID climate that we're in," Shennecossett pro Todd Goodhue said earlier this week. "The topic of conversation with golfers over the weekend was so much has been taken away — restaurants, bars — don't take golf away.

"I think it will be a relief for our members and customers. At least they'll be able to go out for a walk. Otherwise, what else do they have to do?"

Restrictions recommended by the state include:

• Keep clubhouses and other inside areas closed.

• Ask golfers to walk and those that can't, allowing one player per cart.

• Strictly practice social distancing.

• Wash hands often.

• Make adjustments so cups and flagsticks are not touched.

• Sanitation of golf carts after use.

• No distribution of scorecards or pencils.

• Removal of ball washers, rakes, benches, water coolers, used tee baskets and other commonly handled items.

• No caddies and players must handle only their own equipment.

• Starting time intervals should be no less than 10 minutes.

• No shotgun starts.

• Anyone not feeling well should stay home.

Norwich and Shennecossett already had many if not all of these restrictions in place prior to the state's announcement. Stonington, which limited play to members only, also was taking precautions.

The CSGA stated in a release: "With this announcement from the DECD, golf can be played, and played safely in Connecticut during the COVID-19 pandemic. But only if everyone follows these guidelines at all times, especially maintaining strict adherence to social distancing.

"It is also our opinion that any golfer who fails to abide by these guidelines should not be playing, and courses would be justified in expelling those who fail to follow these guidelines."

g.keefe@theday.com

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