More than 200 million Americans are now under governmental stay at home orders in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
A growing number of states, cities and counties have either instructed residents to stay at home except for non-essential outings or mandated the shutdown of all businesses not deemed essential during a crisis. The rules vary on what is considered “essential” from state-to-state — from governmental services, law enforcement and emergency services to grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, utilities and even golf courses, which in a number of cases are given an exemption for public health reasons.
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 may be allowed in some areas, the decision about whether to remain open is up to individual operators. (The information below is aided by research from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America)
State Orders to Limit Coronavirus Spread
|State||Governor Order||Effect on Golf||When Ordered||When Enforced||Details of Order||Website Link|
|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://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/19/governor-gavin-newsom-issues-stay-at-home-order/|
|Nevada||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted||20/03/2020||21/03/2020||Governor Sisolak announces mandate that all non-essential businesses in state shut down|
|Pennsylvania||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||20/03/2020||23/03/2020||Gov. Tom Wolf urged all but life-sustaining businesses to cease physical operations.||https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-secretary-levine-provide-updated-guidance-stress-need-for-compliance-as-cases-rise/|
|New York||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted w extensive safety measures||20/03/2020||23/03/2020||Governor Cuomo mandate that all non-essential workers work from home.||https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency|
|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||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|
|Illinois||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21288-Gov._Pritzker_Stay_at_Home_Order.pdf|
|New Jersey||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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.|
|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."|
|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||https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/|
|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://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200322_Executive-Order_2020-246_Retail.pdf|
|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://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2427|
|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||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|
|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://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gatherings-THIRD-AMENDED-3.23.20.pdf|
|Michigan||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-522626--,00.html|
|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.mass.gov/doc/march-23-2020-essential-services-and-revised-gatherings-order/download|
|West Virginia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf can still be played||23/03/2020||24/03/2020||Gov Jim Justice: all residents directed to stay at home unless performing an essential activity|
|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.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/23/gov-eric-holcomb-issues-stay-home-order-indiana/2899722001/|
|Wisconsin||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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.||https://madison.com/wsj/sports/golf/amateur/madison-area-golf-courses-brace-for-state-s-decision-on/article_54d000f5-84f2-5eac-b2da-cddcbe3d4c8b.html|
|Hawaii||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Private courses and certain local can 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://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2003162-ATG_Third-Supplementary-Proclamation-for-COVID-19-signed.pdf|
|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."||https://www.governor.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-DOH-Order-fv.pdf|
|Washington||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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.||https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6817957-20-25-Coronovirus-Stay-Safe-Stay-Healthy.html|
|Minnesota||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||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://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-20.pdf|
|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://drive.google.com/file/d/1O1EDCY6-A6QBKxzDImCSF8bBBdOOI3Km/view|
|Idaho||Stay at Home Order||Golf permitted||25/03/2020||25/03/2020||Idaho Governor Brad Little has issued a statewide 21-day stay at home order.||https://gov.idaho.gov/pressrelease/governor-little-issues-statewide-stay-home-order-signs-extreme-emergency-declaration/|
|Maine||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed||24/03/2020||25/03/2020||Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday ordered all non-essential Maine businesses and operations to close.||https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-orders-further-steps-protect-public-health-2020-03-24|
|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.||https://governor.vermont.gov/press-release/governor-phil-scott-issues-%E2%80%9Cstay-home-stay-safe%E2%80%9D-order-directs-additional-closures|
|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.|
|Arkansas||Some Counties Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Florida||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted, but not in three biggest counties|
|Georgia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Iowa||Some Non-Essential Shutdown||Golf permitted|
|Kansas||Stay at Home||Golf permitted|
|Mississippi||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Missouri||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Montana||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|New Hampshire||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf courses temporarily closed|
|North Carolina||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted; some local shutdown|
|North Dakota||Non-Essential Shutdown||Golf permitted|
|Oklahoma||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Rhode Island||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|South Carolina||Non-Essential Shutdown||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 permitted; some local shutdown|
|Utah||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Virginia||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Wyoming||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted|
|Arizona||Stay at Home & Non-Essential||Golf permitted; some local shutdown|
|State||Governor Order||Effect on Golf||When Ordered||When Enforced||Details of Order||Website Link|
In some states with stay at home or non-essential orders in place, outside golf operations have been allowed to continue, meaning that golf can still be played subject to strict safety protocols. Those might include closed clubhouses, walking only or one rider per golf cart, online payment, raised cups, and the practice of social distancing with fellow players and course employees.
That’s currently the case in New York, where the New York State Golf Association and Metropolitan Golf Association have said that golf courses can be “open” for play, but access to other facilities is prohibited and golf operations staff, including pro shop employees, are not deemed “essential” based on the executive order and therefore shouldn’t be working.
“If clubs don’t feel comfortable having players on the course without staff available, the ‘lock the gates,’ option should be considered,” the associations said in a joint statement.
In neighboring 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.
Other states have cracked down on golf even though parks and other outdoor activities remain available to the public.
In Michigan, the governor’s office initially informed the Michigan Golf Alliance that courses can remain open for the sole purpose of golf, only to reverse course two days later and rule that golf course employees aren’t considered crucial infrastructure workers.
In Illinois, the governor’s executive order classified golf courses as “places of public amusement,” requiring them to be temporarily closed. On March 25, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity amended that decision, meaning courses could open subject to a number of conditions, but another change the following day resulted in all courses in the state being shut down for the time being.
In California, the first state to institute a stay at home order, many local municipalities instituted an indoor/outdoor distinction that allowed play, but golf operations have since been suspended in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles and San Diego, primarily due to public opinion. A shrinking percentage of courses remain open in a state of 40 million residents and the second-most golf facilities in the nation, as local mandates continue to limit activities beyond walking, biking, running or hiking alone in the state’s parks and open spaces.
In almost all cases, 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.
“Spring is a critical time for turfgrass, and it cannot be neglected for an extended period or it will be lost, and the community will lose a vital asset,” the GCSAA said, noting that facilities also need to adhere to safety protocols such as social distancing, staggered work hours and equipment sanitization. “Golf courses provide many recreational and environmental benefits to the communities they serve, and continuing to maintain them during these unprecedented times will ensure they will be here when the crisis has ended.”
Florida, which has the most golf courses of any state, implemented a stay at home order on April 1 though it’s not yet clear how that affects golf course operations. Prior to the governor’s mandate, restrictions on non-essential businesses — including golf courses in some instances — were made at the local level, and play had been suspended in the state’s three biggest counties (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach).
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.
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.
In Hawaii, all courses on Oahu have to suspend golf operations after Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell ordered the closure of private clubs in addition to public facilities.
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.
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