Gov. Scott allows golf courses to reopen

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BENNINGTON — After being one of the few states in the country to prohibit golf courses to open, Vermont has changed course and will be allowed to open today.

Gov. Phil Scott ordered an addendum to the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order on Wednesday morning that will allow for various outdoor recreational activities to open under "strict health and safety precautions," according to a press release.

"Addendum 13 authorizes businesses, non-profit and government entities that support or offer outdoor recreation and outdoor fitness activities with low or no direct physical contact to begin operations on May 7. These include but are not limited to state and municipal parks, recreation associations, trail networks, golf courses, big game check stations and guided expeditions," it reads.

The state of Vermont listed exercise as an "essential reason" for leaving the house during the original March 24 "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.

State modeling has indicated a slow in the spread of COVID-19 in the state, allowing certain outdoor activities such as golf to be brought back.

"These small gatherings will give Vermonters a chance to reunite and enjoy each other's company. But we must do so carefully," Scott said. "There is no specific set of rules, or enforcement measures that we can put in place here. We need Vermonters to be smart and thoughtful during these visits."

Mount Anthony Country Club owner Maru Griffin-Leon said MACC will be open on Friday. Griffin-Leon says locals are excited to get back out on the course.

"We are happy, and so are people who are golfers. The phone has been ringing off the hook since (the news) came out."

MACC was forced to close during the second week of April because of the coronavirus.

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The course was one of only a few in Vermont that have opened at all this season. Many have remained closed as social distancing measures started taking effect in mid-March, right around the time courses typically open for the season.

While they were open, MACC had to follow very strict guidelines to ensure the safety of golfers as well as workers at the course. The course strongly encouraged those wanting to play a round to sign up for tee-times online. They were also disinfecting golf carts after every use, telling golfers to not touch the flags and allowing every single golfer their own individual golf cart during play.

Griffin-Leon said those precautions will not change as they reopen.

"The same guidelines apply as far as the distancing and no contact. All those guidelines are still in place and will continue for awhile," she said.

MACC is setting up tee times 15 minutes apart from one another, the largest gap in-between rounds they have ever implemented, to better allow golfers to socially distance while they play the course. The break in-between tee times is one of many regulations put in place by the Vermont Golf Association in their "Play Smart and Play Safe" addendum.

There are three phases to the addendum, with phase one including the opening of golf courses on Friday.

Safety precautions in phase one include restricting access to Vermont residents who have self-quarantined for 14 days. Walking the course instead of using a golf cart is encouraged. Those who do choose to use a golf cart must ride in their own individual cart, sharing carts is not allowed. Clubhouses must remain closed and all tee times must be scheduled and paid for remotely. Phase one also mentions that golf courses must clean golf balls after each use in the driving range and clean equipment frequently.

Phase one also limits groups to four golfers at a time. Phase two and phase three do not currently have set dates. Once phase three is reached, traditional play can resume.

Ekwanok Country Club, The Golf Club at Equinox, Dorset Field Club, Manchester Country Club and Mount Snow Golf Course could not immediately be reached for comment and the status of when each course will be opening is unknown at this time.      


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