More than 250 million Americans are under some kind of governmental stay at home orders in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
But restrictions on golf are being increasingly eased as states and counties look to provide safe outdoor activities for residents and plan for the reopening of additional businesses. Currently, only five states have a statewide ban on golf and a growing number — Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, and now Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, Nevada and Maine — have given the approval for play to resume in the past week or so.
The following table indicates which states have some kind of executive order that limits the movements and activities of residents, and how golf is affected. While play is allowed in most areas nationwide, the decision about whether to remain open is up to individual operators.
|State||Governor Order||Effect on Golf||When Ordered||When Enforced||Details of Order||Website Link|
|Alabama||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||27/03/2020||ALABAMA GOV. KAY IVEY on 3/27 ordered the closure of most nonessential businesses in that state in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.||https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/19/governor-gavin-newsom-issues-stay-at-home-order/|
|Alaska||Shelter in Place||Pending; season not begun|
|Arizona||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-secretary-levine-provide-updated-guidance-stress-need-for-compliance-as-cases-rise/|
|Arkansas||Some Counties Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency|
|California||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Some courses still operating; local rules apply||19/03/2020||20/03/2020||Gov. Gavin Newsom orders all California residents to stay home, except as needed for certain essential activities.||https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/03-2020/Governor-Lamont-Signs-Executive-Order-Asking-Connecticut-Businesses-and-Residents-Stay-Safe|
|Colorado||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted; county health depts can overrule||25/03/2020||26/03/2020||Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday ordered the majority of Colorado’s 5.8 million residents to stay home beginning March 26.||https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21288-Gov._Pritzker_Stay_at_Home_Order.pdf|
|Connecticut||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||21/03/2020||23/03/2020||Non-essential businesses in Connecticut must close at 8 p.m. on Monday: Gov. Ned Lamont|
|Delaware||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||22/03/2020||22/03/2020||Delaware Gov. John Carney ordered residents to stay at home and closed nonessential businesses in the state starting 3/24|
|Florida||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/|
|Georgia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200322_Executive-Order_2020-246_Retail.pdf|
|Hawaii||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||A few courses outside Oahu remain open||24/03/2020||25/03/2020||Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a stay-at-home order Monday that went into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. It states that residents can leave "only for essential activities or to engage in the essential businesses and operations." As long as social distancing is practiced, "ocean activities such as surfing and swimming" are exempted.||https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2427|
|Idaho||Self-Isolate Order & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||25/03/2020||25/03/2020||Idaho Governor Brad Little has issued a statewide 21-day stay at home order.||https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/ohio-issues-stay-at-home-order-and-new-restrictions-placed-on-day-cares-for-children|
|Illinois||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Pending; golf operations to resume 5/1||21/03/2020||21/03/2020||Illinois residents in the state will be subject to a stay-at-home order from 5 p.m. on Saturday until the end of April 7: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker||https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gatherings-THIRD-AMENDED-3.23.20.pdf|
|Indiana||Stay at Home Order||Golf can still be played||23/03/2020||25/03/2020||Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb on Monday told state residents to stay at home starting 3/25 until at least April 7.||https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-522626--,00.html|
|Iowa||Some Non-Essential Shutdown||Golf permitted||https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-23-2020-essential-services-and-revised-gatherings-order/download|
|Kansas||Stay at Home Order||Golf permitted|
|Kentucky||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||22/03/2020||23/03/2020||All in-person retail businesses that are not life-sustaining are ordered to close by 8 pm on March 23||https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/23/gov-eric-holcomb-issues-stay-home-order-indiana/2899722001/|
|Louisiana||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||22/03/2020||23/03/2020||Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards imposed a statewide stay-at-home order, effective 5 pm on 3/23||https://madison.com/wsj/sports/golf/amateur/madison-area-golf-courses-brace-for-state-s-decision-on/article_54d000f5-84f2-5eac-b2da-cddcbe3d4c8b.html|
|Maine||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Pending; golf operations to resume 5/1||24/03/2020||25/03/2020||Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday ordered all non-essential Maine businesses and operations to close.||https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2003162-ATG_Third-Supplementary-Proclamation-for-COVID-19-signed.pdf|
|Maryland||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||23/03/2020||23/03/2020||All non-essential businesses are closed to the general public, effective 5 pm on March 23: Gov. Larry Hogan||https://www.governor.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-DOH-Order-fv.pdf|
|Massachusetts||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||23/03/2020||24/03/2020||Gov Charles Baker: All businesses and other orgs that don't provide essential services must close physical locations on March 24 through April 7||https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6817957-20-25-Coronovirus-Stay-Safe-Stay-Healthy.html|
|Michigan||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted as of 4/24||23/03/2020||24/03/2020||As of March 24, it is reasonable and necessary to direct residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer||https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-20.pdf|
|Minnesota||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||25/03/2020||27/03/2020||On March 25, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Wednesday that directs residents to stay in their homes and limit movement to essential activities.||https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O1EDCY6-A6QBKxzDImCSF8bBBdOOI3Km/view|
|Mississippi||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://gov.idaho.gov/pressrelease/governor-little-issues-statewide-stay-home-order-signs-extreme-emergency-declaration/|
|Missouri||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-orders-further-steps-protect-public-health-2020-03-24|
|Montana||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||https://governor.vermont.gov/press-release/governor-phil-scott-issues-%E2%80%9Cstay-home-stay-safe%E2%80%9D-order-directs-additional-closures|
|Nevada||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||20/03/2020||21/03/2020||Governor Sisolak announces mandate that all non-essential businesses in state shut down|
|New Hampshire||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed|
|New Jersey||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Pending; golf operations to resume 5/2||22/03/2020||22/03/2020||The office of the Governor’s Counsel has confirmed (March 22) that golf is not permitted and the business of golf is considered a non-essential, recreational business under Executive Order 107.|
|New Mexico||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||23/03/2020||24/03/2020||New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health order Monday that calls for non-essential businesses to be closed until at least April 10. The order stated that residents "should stay at home and undertake only those outings absolutely necessary for their health, safety or welfare."|
|New York||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf deemed non-essential, but permitted||20/03/2020||23/03/2020||Governor Cuomo mandate that all non-essential workers work from home.|
|North Carolina||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|North Dakota||Non-Essential Shutdown||Golf permitted|
|Ohio||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted; counties have say||22/03/2020||24/03/2020||Ohio will be under a "Stay at Home" order from 3/24 through April 26 or unless rescinded|
|Oklahoma||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Oregon||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||20/03/2020||20/03/2020||Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday told residents to stay home, calling the directive "both an order and a public awareness campaign."|
|Pennsylvania||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Pending; golf operations to resume 5/1||20/03/2020||23/03/2020||Gov. Tom Wolf urged all but life-sustaining businesses to cease physical operations.|
|Rhode Island||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|South Carolina||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|South Dakota||Some Cities Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Tennessee||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted; some local shutdown|
|Texas||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf deemed non-essential 4/8; local rulings apply|
|Utah||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Vermont||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||24/03/2020||25/03/2020||Governor Phil Scott today issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses.|
|Virginia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Washington||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Pending; golf operations to resume 5/5||22/03/2020||25/03/2020||Gov. Jay Inslee took more drastic action, signing a "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order that prohibits Washingtonians from leaving their homes, except for essential tasks.|
|West Virginia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||23/03/2020||24/03/2020||Gov Jim Justice: all residents directed to stay at home unless performing an essential activity|
|Wisconsin||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted as of 4/24||24/03/2020||24/03/2020||Governor Tony Evers ordered nonessential businesses to close indefinitely starting Tuesday in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.|
|Wyoming||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|State||Governor Order||Effect on Golf||When Ordered||When Enforced||Details of Order||Website Link|
In states where golf is permitted, operations are subject to strict safety protocols. That typically includes closed clubhouses, walking only or one rider per golf cart, online payment, raised cups, the removal of high-touch items such as bunker rakes, leaving the flag in at all times, and the practice of social distancing with fellow players and course employees.
In Wisconsin and Michigan, golf operations were cleared to re-open April 24 with modified operations that include a walking-only provision.
In extending a “safer at home” order through May 26, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the state’s Department of Health on April 16 made specific exceptions for golf as well as public parks and open space in the “places of public amusement and activity” category. Michigan made a similar exception under its revised stay at home order, saying golf is allowed as long as it is “consistent with sound social distancing.”
Illinois announced on April 23 that its courses will be able to reopen on May 1. Like Wisconsin and Michigan, Illinois courses will be walking-only and the state is also limiting groups to a maximum of two players rather than a standard foursome.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said on April 27 that the approximately 700 courses in his state will be permitted to open starting May 1 to help residents focus on “physical and mental health during these extraordinary times.” Washington Governor Jay Inslee also cited the physical, emotional and mental benefits of the game in announcing that golf would be able to make a return on May 5.
Outdoor rec. is part of what makes WA special. I’m happy to announce we're getting some access back.
Most state parks/public lands will reopen May 5th. Hunting, fishing and playing golf will also reopen with new health regulations.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) April 28, 2020
Governors in New Jersey and Maine have also given golf courses in their states approval to reopen.
Minnesota allowed its golf courses to reopen on April 18, adding the game to an expanded list of allowable outdoor activities. The amended order allows state residents to engage in golf as well as activities like boating, fishing, hunting and hiking as long as they maintain six feet of distance from others, avoid crowded places and stay near their homes.
In New York, which is home to more than 85o golf courses from Long Island to the most northernmost upstate regions, a recently-updated executive order indicated that golf is not an essential business. Yet the latest guidance suggests facilities can allow golfers walking-only access with strict safety measures in place and that employees such as a golf professional and/or starter could be present not for purposes of golf operations, but only as designated security personnel to enforce social distancing rules.
Here is the calendar for the month of May (and the last 4 days of April). Reminder that there are no walk up times on any course. Also, if you have a reservation, please call the golf office, 516.249.0700, 3 hours prior to your tee time to pay for your group over the phone. pic.twitter.com/8cHMPYnzxV
— Bethpage Golf (@BethpageGolf) April 26, 2020
California was first state to invoke some form of stay-at-home order and golf operations were quickly suspended in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles and San Diego.
Although there was no statewide ban on golf, play continued on primarily only in small pockets in Sacramento and San Luis Obispo counties. As of the week of April 20, however, modified golf operations have begun to resume in places like Ventura, Riverside, Placer, Napa, Stanislaus, Orange, San Bernadino and San Luis Obispo counties.
In all cases in which an executive order restricts play, golf facilities are permitted to continue limited maintenance operations to ensure the upkeep and care of courses, given they are a living ecosystem with an average footprint of about 150 acres. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and other leading industry associations continue to work with state and local officials to ensure maintenance is allowed to proceed when public golf operations are shut down.
Florida, which has the most golf courses of any state, implemented its stay-at-home order on April 1, but it doesn’t affect course operations statewide. Play remains temporarily suspended in two of the state’s biggest counties — Miami-Dade and Broward — but Palm Beach County is allowing play to resume at all public and private courses starting April 29.
In Arizona, where Governor Doug Ducey has stipulated that cities, towns, and counties coordinate and be consistent with advice from the state’s health department. As part of his executive order, however, Ducey included golf courses on an expansive list of essential services that cities and counties are prohibited from closing down. As a result, more than 80% of courses remain open.
In South Carolina, where there’s no state-wide stay at home mandate, initial reports indicated that golf courses in Myrtle Beach had to be closed for at least two weeks. The City of Myrtle Beach later amended that order, saying courses could stay open, but only to local players. Statewide, more than 85% of golf courses remain open to play.
In Ohio, the state’s Department of Health has said that golf courses can remain open as an outside recreation opportunity if golfers comply with proper social distancing requirements, but that the final decision on outside operations (play) rests with individual counties.
In Connecticut, play is permitted subject to restrictions, including strict social distancing rules with fellow players and course employees, and some municipalities have temporarily shut down courses that couldn’t follow those mandates.
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