For now, Augusta area golfers can still enjoy the satisfying sounds that come with playing a round of golf.
Forest Hills Golf Club, and several other area courses, are taking every precaution possible to keep players safe. “Talking to other operators who are currently still open and operating, we’re all pretty much doing the same thing,” said Dan Elliott, director of golf at Forest Hills.
“We’re doing everything we can to stay to the guidelines that have been suggested for us to do, and at the same time, be here for anybody that wants to come out and play golf,” he added.
“And I’ll tell you this, people want to play golf right now,” said Elliott.
Players will notice the precautions as soon as they arrive at the course. There is only one door unlocked for entrance to the clubhouse, and it is left open to avoid people touching the handle. Hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the clubhouse. The golf carts are sanitized before and after being used for play.
On the course, all community water coolers have been removed. The clubs is asking players to leave the flag in, instead of touching it to remove it. In the holes, they have placed small pieces of foam pool floats resting one inch below the cup to keep players from reaching into the cup to retrieve their ball.
The dining room is closed to prevent large groups from gathering. A limited food menu is available from a takeout area on the front porch. Workers in the grill are wearing gloves during all transactions with customers.
Dr. Jose Vazquez, chief of infectious disease division at the Medical College of Georgia is a golfer himself. “Actually, I was just golfing this past weekend,” said Dr. Vazquez.
We asked him if he thinks it’s safe to currently play golf with those in good health. “I think that’s a fantastic option, playing golf,” said Dr. Vazquez.
“You can even go to the driving range because you’re separated by more than five feet on the driving range. So I would say, absolutely, playing golf would be one of the options,” he continued.
One of the golfers out on the course was Augusta University women’s golf coach Carolina Hegg. Her team had their NCAA DI tournament at Forest Hills, and eventually their entire season, canceled due to Covid-19 concerns.
“It’s great to be involved in an activity that’s still considered safe and still something we can do and still be courteous to each other and make sure we’re following the current rules,” said Hegg.
“I’m really proud to be associated with a golf course that’s doing their best to still provide a service to our community when we really need it, but also keep us safe,” said Hegg.
Jimmy Atkins, a local player, was out enjoying the 80-degree temperature and sunshine with three others. “I feel like a lot of people are already starting to experience some cabin fever,” said Atkins. “So it’s an opportunity to get outdoors and have some fun and get your mind off of what’s going on in the world for a couple hours,” Atkins added.
“I feel like Forest Hills is doing a great of making sure the patrons are safe. And I definitely think it’s something to be concerned about, but as long as you take the precautions that the CDC is advising I think you’ll be in good shape,” said Atkins.