Carl Meier

Carl Meier takes a swing on Haven Golf Course's driving range on Thursday afternoon.

There's no shortage of disappointment as coronavirus concerns continue to shut down venues and cancel events, but here's a little good news: You can still golf as much as you want.

The CDC recommends avoiding gatherings of 10 people or more and maintaining at least six feet of distance.

When it comes to golf, maintaining distance and avoiding large groups comes with the territory.

Ronnie Black, San Ignacio Golf Club's director of golf and general manager,  said it's been hard to tell how the turnout has been, but overall, he's encouraged. 

"I don't know if people feel the fear enough to stay in their homes 100 percent of the time," Black said. "I think everybody is concerned, everybody is stressed about it, but I think golf is one of the safest activities you can do."

Part of the safety appeal of golf is that it's easy to maintain social distancing in a foursome and it's typically people you're familiar with, he said.

Greg Chesney, general manager at Haven Golf Course, said they've had a packed course when the weather wasn't a factor.

"We're trying to accommodate the customer and do everything we can do to provide a safe atmosphere for them to play golf in," he said. "We're limiting the number of people in the pro shop to four customers."

 Haven's lounge closed Thursday night after the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation that prohibited food and beverages for on-site consumption. Chesney said they will still have a pick-up window and drink cart to meet demand, but they will only be making pre-packaged drinks available.

While Haven doesn't have an extensive food service, other courses with restaurants are likely to take a bigger hit. 

Food and drink

Mike Cochran is general manager for Torres Blancas Golf Club and Canoa Ranch Golf Club. He said the county's dine-in ban has already led to temporary layoffs.

"They've been good employees," he said. "It's unfortunate we're going through what we are. But in order to stay alive, there's certain actions that any business is going to have to take and this is one of those things."

Black also said San Ignacio's restaurant would close its dine-in because of the proclamation and that the move will affect their bottom line. He said they are still going to have delivery and take-out to help compensate for the losses.

Cochran said they are researching a delivery option but have a take-out option for now.

There's still golf

While there's going to be a loss in revenue from drinks and food, the courses are optimistic as golfers take to the fairways and driving ranges.

Cochran said they've seen a slight decrease in the number of people who have come out to the courses but he found those who are hitting them have been positive while maintaining social distance.

"We've started seeing some of our winter visitors headed back north," he said. "But the golfers who do come in the morning, and all day long, are happy. They're ready to go have some fun and that's our goal. It always has been our goal, and that's not going to change because of this doggone virus."

With Canadians headed home early and people choosing to stay indoors, the lack of decrease in players might be an indicator that Haven has been getting people who would have typically been doing other activities, Chesney said.

He doesn't see any reason to close the courses anytime in the future.

"We're going to plan to remain open unless we're told otherwise," he said. "We want to provide a service to our customers and we want our customers to have the opportunity to come out and be able to do something."

Cochran said he had noticed unfamiliar players showing up to the course as well.

"Golfing is still going to provide a fun type of relief that you can forget about your daily trouble and challenges (with) everything going on in society about the virus," he said. "It's a chance to get away, and I think that's what we're seeing from the people we haven't seen before."

Black is confident they'll come through this alright. 

"We're a very healthy business so we'll be able to keep our doors open as long as we're not mandated to close them," he said.

Glad it's here

Carl Meier hit some balls from Haven's driving range on Thursday afternoon. He was relieved the courses were still available.

Meier splits his time between Green Valley and Michigan and said he's not sure whether he'll head home at the usual time or extend his stay in Green Valley.

Meier said it depends on whether everything back home remains closed. In the meantime, he has Green Valley with plenty of outdoor space to still spend his time, including golf.

"Everything is shut down back up there," he said. "I just talked to my kids back there and schools are closed, restaurants are closed and everything else. At least here you still got outside to play golf, hike or walk. Back there, it's still too cold."

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732

Load comments