NY State Golf Association: Courses can open but golfers must practice social distancing
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NY State Golf Association: Courses can open but golfers must practice social distancing

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The New York State Golf Association says golf courses can open for the 2020 season but golfers have to abide by CDC guidelines for safe social distancing, according to a press release on Thursday.

The NYSGA has been closely monitoring all information and updates regarding COVID-19 and the impact on the industry.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's PAUSE Executive Order, which went into effect on March 22 stats, "All non-essential businesses statewide will be closed, non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are canceled or postponed at this time, and any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced."

The Governor's Counsel office and regional Empire State Development Directors provided clarification on how this Executive Order pertains to golf.

New York courses are allowed to remain open but must implement all CDC and state-mandated guidelines, and promote safe, social distancing. There is to be no access to pro shops, locker rooms, indoor facilities and restaurants/bars (unless for take-out purposes only). Staff cannot grant access to any of these facilities. There is to be no transactions of money, credit cards or other payment for purpose of play, equipment and/or merchandise.

Social distancing on the golf course may include:

• Stay at least 6 feet away from others

• Don't shake hands before or after your game

• Leave the flagstick in the hole

• Remove rakes and ball washers from course

• Do not share clubs or any other equipment

• If using a golf cart, limit to one person

Due to the unique COVID-19 precautions, the USGA has provided guidance on how to use the flexibility provided in the Rules of Golf while protecting public health. 

As for the upcoming NYSGA tournament season, amateur series events or championships have not been postponed or canceled. NYSGA staff will continue to monitor public health developments and evaluate as necessary.

Seminars on the Rules of Golf and World Handicap System will most likely not be offered at member clubs this spring, due to the current status of COVID-19.

The USGA announced on March 20 that local qualifying for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open is cancelled in its current form, including all NY sites. All players who've already registered will need to file a new application when the restructured qualifying plan is announced. They've also cancelled their first two national championships of the season, the 2020 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball.

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