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Governor eases restrictions, allows golf courses to reopen

Updated April 30, 2020 - 3:50 pm

Gov. Steve Sisolak opened the door for the return of golf Friday.

While he extended the stay-at-home mandate through May 15 amid the coronavirus pandemic, he is allowing golf courses to reopen. Clubhouses must remain closed.

In his decree, Sisolak was clear that course operations — and other outdoor activities such as tennis and pickleball — could resume “as long as they do it safely and in a way that prevents the spread of COVID-19.”

The news was met with appreciation by golf course owners and managers plus everyday golfers. Keith Flatt, owner of Elite Golf management company, said the reopening is a positive signal not only for his industry, but for Las Vegas overall.

“Obviously for our industry this is very positive news, but I believe this should bring hope to everyone in the city because this is hopefully just the beginning and other restrictions will be lifted and our city can begin to return to a more sense of normalcy,” Flatt said.

In the past week, several other governors had also eased restrictions on golf. Among the other states to do so were New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Texas and Florida.

Golf courses were never closed in Arizona and Utah, and many golfers in Southern Nevada were driving to courses in those states to play.

In Southern Nevada, the staffs at many courses were quickly preparing to reopen, while others were still assessing the new mandate. Courses in Nevada were closed by Sisolak on April 9, but even before that, ownership of some courses elected to close as a precautionary measure.

“We are very excited about reopening, and already our phones have been ringing off the hook, so that is a sign that people have pent-up energy and are looking forward to getting out in a safe environment and enjoying the outdoors,” said Ron Boreta, owner of the Las Vegas Golf Center. “We realize this remains a challenging time for a lot of people, but we are happy to offer a diversion while keeping people safe.”

Courses that remained open implemented social distancing protocols such as one person to a cart except for spouses, not touching the flagstick, prepaid online tee times and others. Course representatives on Thursday said those measures will continue to be enforced, per the governor’s directive.

According to an economic impact study commissioned in 2019 by the Nevada Golf Alliance, the golf industry in Nevada helped drive $1.981 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic output in 2018. The industry also employed, directly or indirectly, more than 17,000 people, many of whom will now be returning to work.

Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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