Central New York golf courses opening again after COVID-19 restrictions change


19 April 2020

After more than a week of complete shutdowns, some golf courses are partially re-opening in central New York this weekend after the state modified its rules for the kinds of business operations that are allowed under the state’s coronavirus-related emergency restrictions.

Golf, with a set of social distancing restrictions, had been allowed in most of the state until April 9, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded the definition of “non-essential” businesses to include golf with a complete shutdown. But this weekend, with data indicating that COVID-19 infections may be slowing in New York state, new guidance came out allowing golfers back on courses.

But the golf clubs still can’t operate as they normally would. Only employees providing essential services, such as groundskeeping and security, are allowed to work. Restaurants must continue to offer only take-out or delivery service. Indoor facilities remain closed to the public.

In central New York, the lifting of the statewide restrictions was causing some confusion because some counties, including Onondaga and Cayuga, had also instituted their own closure orders for golf courses.

On Friday, Onondaga County officially lifted its order, citing the statewide rules.

One course in Onondaga County that’s near the Cayuga County border, Millstone Golf Course on Route 5 in Elbridge, opened up Sunday for the first time in roughly two weeks. Golfing is restricted to only people who walk the course, and 6 feet of social distancing is required for every person on the course.

Cayuga County Legislature Chair Aileen McNabb-Coleman issued a statement Sunday formally removing the temporary golf course closure order she had issued on April 9.

“Golfers may walk the course and carry their bags,” the statement said. “Golf carts will not be available as there will be no staff to sanitize them. Clubhouses and locker rooms will not be open. Landscapers will be allowed on the course as well as security personnel to ensure golfers are maintaining six feet of social distance.

Some courses in the county were already opening Sunday ahead of the county’s announcement. The Dutch Hollow Country Club in Owasco was welcoming golfers back in a message posted to its website:

“Great News of of 4/19/20: We are open again to walking golfers per state order. No carts as of now Hopefully soon.”

Fillmore Golf in Locke was also opened Sunday morning: “FGC is opening today at 10AM for walkers only,” its Facebook page said. “Come get some exercise and enjoy the outside. Have a great day!”

The golf course changes came as the state also loosened restrictions this weekend on private boatyards and marinas, allowing them to open with social distancing rules in place.

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