Keizer golf facilities remain open and safe

McNary Golf Club has taken numerous safety precautions, but can still stay open in spite of Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order (Eric A. Howald).

Though public parks and the majority of gathering places have been shut down due to spread of COVID-19, golf is still an activity Keizerites can enjoy during the pandemic. 

Despite Gov. Kate Brown releasing an executive order on Monday, March 23, that shut down many non-essential businesses, golf facilities like McNary Golf Club and Willow Lake Golf Center are allowed to stay open for the time being, so long as they adhere to a strict set of regulations that enforce social distancing. 

“It means a lot that we’re able to stay open because people are experiencing a lot of stress in their daily lives. Golf brings people calm and allows people to get outdoors,” said Chip Sullivan, the PGA director of club operations at McNary Golf Club. “Even through we are all going through tough times, anyone can come out and enjoy the scenery and fresh air. I hope it will be a good safe haven for people.”

Rich Howard, the owner of Willow Lake Golf Center, added similar sentiments. 

“It means that we can stay solvent financially by staying open, but more importantly, we can still provide an outlet for people,” Howard said. “Cabin fever is a real thing so we love that people can come here, be outside and have conversations with people, as long as they are practicing social distancing. It gives us a sense of pride that we are able to provide this service to the community

After Brown’s executive order, Sullivan admitted that he wasn’t clear on whether or not he had to close McNary Golf Club. 

“She seemed to mention everything except golf courses,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan actually closed the course March 21-23, but after getting clarification from the Oregon Golf Association, he was able to re-open the club on Tuesday, March 24.

“Golf is allowed as long as the social distancing measures are in place, country club activities for a gathering would not be allowed. We categorized golf similar to a hike or outdoor activity, rather than through “essential travel” which is meant to stop vacations,” said Leah Horner, on behalf of the Governor’s office.

However, McNary Golf Club will be enforcing strict guidelines in order for everyone at the facility to remain safe.

Patrons will have to remain six feet from each other at all times and there can only be one customer in the pro shop at a time.

Unless it’s a family member, more than one person riding in a golf cart at a time is prohibited. 

“We are doing everything we can do to protect ourselves and our customers,” Sullivan said. “We will be disinfecting regularly any places where hands could touch something.”

Additionally, McNary Golf Club staff has cut and placed pool noodles in each of the holes so that when the ball goes in the hole, it can be easily retrieved without touching the flag — removing the flag is not allowed.

All rakes and ball washers have also been removed. Outdoor restrooms will still be available for use. 

These conditions are fluid and change at a moments notice according to the McNary Golf Club website. 

Howard has enacted similar rules at Willow Lake, making sure that golfers are at least six feet apart and allowing only one person per party in the pro shop at a time.

Willow Lake will only be doing credit card transactions only, no cash — patrons will not have to sign the credit card receipt.

“We are disinfecting our baskets, ball and tokens multiple times a day,” Howard said. “Any place there is a point of contact, we are cleaning it.”

No carts or bags will be allowed inside the pro shop at Willow Lake and no rental or loaner clubs will be available for use.