When statewide stay-at-home orders rolled out the third week of March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, golf course operations were affected nationwide.
At one point in mid-April, as many as 19 states had restrictions on golf, either at a statewide or local level. Golf was among the first businesses and activities to resume, given its safe outdoor nature conductive to social distancing. In states that had a ban, golf operations have been phased back in in different stages and with different protocols.
As the maps detail below, states in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions were among the first to enforce executive orders that required golf courses to temporarily suspend operations. With some states, such as Illinois, there was initial confusion — with golf allowed to be played very briefly after an initial shutdown, only to be restricted again days later.
After the final counties in California lifted their bans, clearing the way for golf to resume throughout the state on May 8, New Hampshire became the final state to allow its courses to reopen on May 11.
States such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland had among the longest statewide restrictions, with all courses shut down for business for more than five weeks.
Ohio ordered the statewide closure of its courses from March 26-28 and then deemed that golf operations were a county health issue. As such, availability of play varied from county to county.
California, which has the second-most golf courses in the nation behind only Florida, was among the first states to enforce restrictions on golf, but they too were different among its 58 counties. Los Angeles County cleared the way for more than 100 golf courses to reopen on May 8, the last California county to do so. San Diego golf courses were permitted to resume operations on May 1 and San Francisco Bay Area courses began reopening on May 4.
Colorado, Florida, Hawaii and New York also had significant local or county golf restrictions in place. In Florida’s golf-rich Palm Beach County, for example, courses were shut down for 34 days from March 26 through April 29.
Some cities or counties still have limitations in place. Many public courses in New York City’s five boroughs remain shut down, while a number of city-operated courses in the Chicago city limits are still closed. Washington D.C. reopened the last of its city courses on June 5.
The National Golf Foundation is a community of individuals and golf businesses committed to being the most well-informed advocates for the growth of the industry. With the world’s largest research team dedicated to golf, NGF provides members with the most accurate and objective insights on the game. We help golf businesses better understand their market and grow their businesses. The NGF is the only association for everyone in golf, and we advocate for growth by educating and connecting our members.