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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 23, 2020 04:58 PM
From: Senator Doug Mastriano
To: All Senate members
Subject: Golf Courses and COVID-19 Safety Protocols
In the near future, I will introduce legislation allowing Pennsylvania golf courses to reopen immediately under strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

Golf courses throughout Pennsylvania provide an important outlet for healthy behavior for thousands of people. It is also a great opportunity for outdoor recreation during these difficult times.

Health experts and epidemiologists have spoken recently about the need for such activity and how golf can be played safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Golf is unique among outdoor activities for the natural “social distancing” that occurs, with small groups of four individuals - - - at most - - - spread across wide areas of play that in total, typically comprise between 100 and 200 acres.

Golf is not a contact sport and one can easily play without ever getting within six feet of another person.

Additionally, golf is widely seen as an activity that is viable and relatively low-risk, however there are still precautions that need to be in place to ensure the safety of players, golf course staffs and club/course officials.

The following are a few examples we could implement at the golf course level to help ensure the regulations laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization are being met:

• The golf course will be for golfers only to manage activity levels, all non-golfers/members will not be permitted.

• Advocating players to walk and/or restricted riders to one per power cart.

• All clubhouse/food and beverage to continue with their permitted take-out service, and to then follow in accordance with the business practices of reopening of restaurants as defined by the state.

• Retail stores/pro shops should not be open and in-person retail sales to reopen as defined by the state.

• Restriction of payment types to recommend online transactions to help eliminate handling of cash or credit.

• Increasing of tee time intervals/policy to help create appropriate social distancing between groups.

• Removal of flagsticks, or similarly effective methods with cup liners, to avoid additional touch points.

• Removal of bunker rakes and other on-course furniture like benches, ball washers, water coolers, etc.

• Installation of signage to encourage no group congregation, or limiting numbers and communications and directives for check-in policies from their cars.

• Personal push carts to be permitted only if brought by the golfer, club push carts are not allowed.

• All golfers must use their own golf clubs. Sharing golf clubs, or rental golf clubs is not allowed.

• Ensure restrooms are frequently cleaned and appropriately sanitized throughout the day.

• Posting signage to encourage compliance of CDC regulations such as no hand shaking, and frequent hand washing.

• Having staff always wear protective gloves and face masks.

• Monitoring parking lots by essential employees to ensure congregation and tailgating does not happen.

• Educating staff on CDC requirements and proper hygiene, and sanitation regulations.

• Golf bag must remain in the golfer’s possession at all times. After play, no staff member should handle bags. Recommend keeping clubs in car or at home. It should not be returned to the bag room.

• Staff levels appropriate to correspond with facility activity. (i.e. fewer staff when possible to limit possible exposure).

• Golf and grounds staffs should be provided areas where social distancing can be accomplished. 

According to a 2014 study, the economic impact of the 665 golf courses in the Commonwealth was $2.3 billion.

Also, the $2.3 billion Pennsylvania golf industry contributed to the total economic impact of $4.8 billion for Pennsylvania, including the indirect and induced economic impacts stimulated by golf sector activity.  This also includes a total employment impact of nearly 56,000 jobs with a total wage income of $1.4 billion.

Finally, what goes unnoticed is the charitable giving from the golf industry.  The aforementioned study estimates that $131.9 million was contributed in 2014 and was not included in the economic impact to PA, but certainly very important to our society. 

Please join me in cosponsoring this important initiative, which will promote healthy recreation in Pennsylvania during these unprecedented times.

Introduced as SB1141