Clarification on Smith County golf courses during the COVID-19 pandemic

How one East Texas golf course is operating during the Coronavirus pandemic

BULLARD, Texas (KLTV) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order defining essential and non-essential businesses created confusion among the golfing community. On one hand, it is a forum for essential exercise. On the other, there are dining rooms and social distancing requirements.

"We remain constant here in smith county we believe the way business were operating, golf courses were operating under our business provision originally, is consistent with the governor’s specific language in his order that applies statewide…in particular we think golf courses can continue to operate here in smith county but we need to have their indoor clubs locked to the public,” Smith County Judge, Nathaniel Moran said.

On Saturday, April 11, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidelines saying golf courses can remain open if local authorities require social distancing protocols and people follow public health instructions.

“Golf courses was not included in that list, of essential services. However we did say, people should feel free to go take a walk in the park to advance their own personal health…so here’s the way that’s applied…people are free to walk along or even with a golf club and a golf ball go along a golf course, a public golf course anybody can,” Texas Governor, Greg Abbott said.

Moran echoes that point, saying the need to exercise is important to everyone sheltering at home.

"We’ve talked about the need for people to get out, exercise, recreate and a number of different ways throughout the community. Golf this time of year in particular is a wonderful way to get out and enjoy the sunshine,” he said.

Oak Hurst Golf Course in Bullard, Tx., says they’re following the CDC standards in order to keep their business open.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order defining essential and non essential businesses created confusion among the golfing community. On one hand, it is a forum for essential exercise. On the other, there are dining rooms and social distancing requirements.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order defining essential and non essential businesses created confusion among the golfing community. On one hand, it is a forum for essential exercise. On the other, there are dining rooms and social distancing requirements. (Source: KLTV 2020. All rights reserved.)

"We really emphasize the social distancing, we’re disinfecting our golf carts with soapy bleach water, cleaning them all up every day, every time they get used,” Head Golf Professional at Oak Hurst Golf Course, Jeff Raimer, said.

The clubhouse at Oak Hurst is closed and Raimer is enforcing that anyone who plays follows the rules.

“Take care of your own equipment, don’t touch anybody else’s equipment. It’s really all about touch points for us and making sure that people understand the importance of that and just disinfecting all day everyday,” he said.

Moran says he expects the businesses to comply with a one person per cart rule.

“We do not have a problem at all with courses allowing members of the same household to ride in the same golf cart together as well, but if they’re not in the same household what we want courses to do is to make sure it’s just one rider per cart,” he said.

Courses have be asked to remove flags and rakes and to place cups above ground to limit the number of common touch points.

Landscapers and other workers who are necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of the business are likewise essential. Such services may continue to operate, and employees performing those services may go to work at the golf course.

For those counties needing clarification, Executive Director of the Northern Texas PGA, Mark Harrison, says to check in with your local government.

“Definitely check with your county judge to make sure that you’re following the guidelines within the county and I’m sure he or she will have their own interpretation of what the governor said,” Harrison said. “Until, and only if we hear directly from the governor’s office, the status of golf in Texas will continue to be determined county to county and judge to judge.”

KLTV 2020. All rights reserved.