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Some locals upset golf courses stay open during pandemic

Updated April 8, 2020 - 1:55 pm

More than 30 golf courses in Southern Nevada are still open amid the coronavirus pandemic, providing refuge for some and confusion for others who don’t understand why they’re still operating despite clearly being a nonessential business.

One of the members at Red Rock Country Club, whose courses remain open, contacted the Review-Journal’s tip line to voice displeasure with the club’s decision.

“I don’t know if people are lobbying to have these places remain open or what,” the member said. “It’s just another way to get sick, to me. … If people are doing any type of activity where they can’t isolate themselves, it’s asking for trouble.”

Another local, Chet Kupiszewski, said via Next Door that he thinks it’s fine for golf courses to remain open. “There’s a good enough distance between people and it’s in the open air,” he wrote.

A third local also spoke with the Review-Journal through Next Door, saying she doesn’t take issue with courses remaining open, but struggles to understand why they’re allowed to remain open.

“I’m more confused as to how they can get a ‘pass’ to stay open because they are obviously not essential businesses,” the local wrote. “If other nonessential businesses take similar precautions, will they also be allowed to stay open or reopen? Or is there some reason this is solely a golf course thing?”

It is obviously a sensitive topic. Representatives from more than 20 courses did not return phone calls on the issue or declined to comment.

Thirteen states have barred golf during the coronavirus crisis, according to Golf Digest. Nevada is not one of them, but 21 courses in Southern Nevada closed voluntarily.

At all the local courses, clubhouses are closed and courses that are open have implemented strict rules for patrons, who no longer need to touch the pin or rake the bunkers. Tee times are staggered. Hand sanitizer is plentiful. Golfers no longer share carts, plus the sport itself inherently provides plenty of distance between its participants.

The Nevada Golf Alliance’s statement as of April 7 encouraged all golfers and golf facilities to follow the latest best practices protocols informed by recent social distancing policies. Each facility is encouraged to share its best practices on its website and to inform guests and staff to facilitate a safe environment for all, the statement said.

Brady Kannon works for Tee Times USA — running the local branch booking tee times for tourists — and compared playing golf to going for a walk. He said he’s played twice since coronavirus has necessitated quarantining and social distancing, finding great pleasure on the fairways, in the bunkers and on the greens.

“I know everybody I played with, we were all of the same feeling that it was great to get outside,” he said. “All of the social distance practices were maintained. We were 6 to 8 feet away from each other. It’s not like we were high-fiving.”

Ruth Paladino has belonged to Anthem Country Club for four years and says she finds a sense of peace and calm on the golf course that she can’t find anywhere else during the pandemic.

“It’s the only peace I get. It’s time to be outside, fresh air, enjoy myself and not be trapped in the house,” said Paladino, who played the course Wednesday morning.

Paladino reaffirmed that she, like Kannon, is adhering to all safety practices and insists that golfing is “safer than anything else.”

She’s plays no more than three times a week so other members also can have their time on the course.

“I have my own clubs, my own ball, my own stuff. Nobody touches it,” Paladino said. “We’re very cautious now. We’re standing very far away. There’s no meeting up afterwards. You’re there, you play your 18 holes and then you pretty much have to say goodbye, which before, you didn’t do that.”

Sports editor Bill Bradley contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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