(Re) Opening Day

AMHERST – Like he hadn’t missed about a month and a half of the golf season, Steve Actis unloaded his golf bag, put on his shoes and made his way to the first tee for his 9:48 tee time on Monday morning.

The first shot was right where he wanted it and he and his group were off and running at Amherst Country Club.

“It’s nice, as long as everyone follows the rules,” Actis said. “Everybody follows the guidelines and stay away. It’s safer outside as long as we stay 6-feet away or further on a golf course. Just enjoy yourself and be outside.”

Players, employees and ownership alike were happy to be back.

“A lot, it’s been a long few weeks,” Dan Mladuc, playing with Actis said. “It’s good to be out here, so we’ll take the guidelines and go with it.”

Gov. Sununu lifted some of the guidelines of the stay-at-home order last week and as May 11 at 6 a.m., golf courses are able to reopen.

One of the safest sports, where no contact of any kind is required, was forced to be shut down at the end of March.

With the opportunity to reopen, comes a new set of guidelines that courses will be forced to follow.

Those guidelines include the following:

Golfers must handle their own golf bag and remain into their car until 15 minutes prior to their tee time, when they can call the clubhouse or check in online.

Golf carts will available on first come, first serve basis for a fee and will for a single rider. Carts will be sanitized between uses.

Greens fees will be paid online and over the phone.

You must be a NH resident or a member of the course.

Customers and staff will be instructed to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others (staff and other customers) at all times while playing and on the grounds.

On Monday, Amherst CC has a raised cup to about an inch from the putting surface, marked by a red flag.

They used a window for customers to pay for their round as well as being able to purchase things such as golf balls and anything else necessary to play the game.

No one seemed to mind any of the changes, and on Monday, things seemed to run just as smooth.

“Everyone so far has been receptive,” Bill Boyd, the starter said. “No one has complained about it. Everyone pretty much is social distancing. As far as taking carts, unless it’s a family and they live together, everyone is driving their own cart. I would say 85-90 percent of golfers are walking today.”

In the past, any kind of jams on the course came from the nine or 10 minute tee times with faster golfer catching slower golfers.

Extending the length between times, seems to have helped with that issue to ensure those jams didn’t happen.

“It’s helping quite a bit,” Boyd said. “It’s making sure everyone is safe and far enough away. There’s no backups. It’s running very smooth this morning.”

It also helped that there was no play in April, when courses are often in their worst shape due to the winter season and the bad early spring weather.

“The course is in great condition,” Boyd said. “There were no divots until they got out there today. Steve Wilson, who is the head groundskeeper, did a tremendous job out there with the course.”

That’s something Actis found out when he got to his ball in the fairway on No. 1.