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Golfers Play Through Idaho's COVID-19 Shutdown

Darin Oswald
Idaho Statesman

Even during a pandemic, you can still spoil a good walk with a round of golf. 
Boise retiree Jim Grunow hasn't given up his twice-weekly rounds, along with more than a dozen friends.

"Every Tuesday at Boise Ranch," he explained. Then, on Thursdays they rotate. "We’ve played Timberstone, Ridgecrest, Centennial, River Birch. I don’t think we’ve missed a Tuesday or Thursday so far,” he quipped.

Considered outdoor exercise, golf courses were never officially closed during Idaho’s stay-home order. Boise, Nampa and Caldwell all chose to shutter their municipal courses for several weeks. All but Boise’s Quail Hollow have reopened. 


Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said the city couldn't find an effective way to offer golf carts when it reopened courses on Monday. Warm Springs is easily walkable - not something golfers would say about Quail Hollow. There were other difficulties with keeping safe distance between patrons and employees at Quail Hollow, but Holloway said they are hopeful that course will reopen when the city enters its phase two of reopening. 


Privately-owned, open-to-the-public courses said they welcomed significantly more players last month than a normal April. 


"The only thing you really touch at all of these golf courses is your golf ball and your own golf clubs," Grunow said. "I see people distancing pretty well.” 


Clubs have adapted courses with things like raising holes, removing rakes and ball washers, and checking in players by telephone.


Jerry Breaux runs Banbury, Ridgecrest and Red Hawk golf courses in the Treasure Valley. He had to rent additional golf carts because, like most courses, only one player is allowed per cart. Courses have also implemented additional cleaning procedures which keep the carts from being used multiple rounds each day. Even then, Breaux said the majority of recent players still walk.


He said the increase in play and a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program are helping balance out income lost from canceled tournaments and a decrease in food and beverage sales.


Grunow said he knows courses are busier than usual because he has to schedule tee times a week ahead instead of a the usual few days out. Despite the changes, and the risks, he says he and his buddies will keep coming.


"Golfing brings a kind of normalcy to a week if you’re used to playing." 


Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

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