EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – As part of Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas that went into effect on Friday, golf courses in El Paso are once again allowed to accept guests.
At Painted Dunes Golf Course, they’re completely booked through the weekend, but they say safety is their number 1 priority.
“I think we’ve done everything that we could possibly do,” said Painted Dunes director of instruction Jeff Zuloaga.
Along with the bulk of golf courses in El Paso, Painted dunes reopened on Friday morning, seemingly as busy as they are on any normal weekend.
“It has been a steady flow of golfers; it’s pretty busy. Everyone’s anxious to get back out on the golf course,” said volunteer Jesse Licon.
A few courses opened up earlier in the week, including Coronado Country Club and Horizon Golf Club, after the city of El Paso allowed it on Tuesday morning. The rest abided by Abbott’s ruling to open Friday.
They’re taking extensive precautions. Painted Dunes tee times are in 16-minute intervals and groups can have no more than four people. The use of golf carts is permitted, with one rider per cart. Carts are disinfected after each use.
On the course, bunker rakes have been removed and the holes must be filled with a liner so players can retrieve their balls without touching the pin. Driving ranges are also closed and payment must be made electronically or over the phone.
“That’s our number one goal is our customer’s safety. Yes, they’re here to have fun, but we want them to be safe also,” said Zuloaga.
Patrons were pleased to see that safety measures had been taken.
“I was excited but also hesitant just because El Paso hasn’t seen its peak,” said Ruben Ramirez. “What they’re doing right now seems like a pretty good plan.”
The precautions are absolutely necessary and it doesn’t hurt that golf easily allows for social distancing by nature.
“The only ones you’ll be around is the people you’re playing golf with. There’s not a group within 100 yards of each other,” said Zuloaga.
The city of El Paso released a list of rules and regulations for golf courses to abide by. Below is the entire list:
In an effort to slowly re-open businesses in El Paso, golf courses will re-open with restrictions. Golf courses, their employees and golfers must adhere to certain measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure:
Buildings, parking lots and general grounds
- Gold pro-shops must remain closed. Payment for play must be made electronically or over the phone. If the course is private, play is limited to members only, no guests.
- Tee times will be in 15-minute intervals.
- Groups of more than four (4) golfers are not allowed. Only golfers are allowed on the course.
- Players are responsible for handling their golf bags and clubs. Course personnel will not handle bags or clubs atany time.
- Players are not allowed to arrive at the course more than ten (10) minutes prior to their tee time and must maintainsocial distancing while waiting for their tee time. Players must leave the course immediately when their round isfinished.
- Walking is preferred and pull carts are allowed. The use of golf carts is permitted provided use is restricted to asingle rider and anyone living in the same household. Carts used must be sanitized by wiping all high touch areas (including steering wheels, cup holders, seats and roof supports and areas of the roof where players would grab entering or leaving the cart) before and after each round of use. All cart attendants should wear rubber gloves.
- No ice/water machines are to be in use. NO drinking fountains to be in operation.
- Staffing beyond those needed for golf course maintenance and security should be minimalo limited number of cart attendants, starter to monitor tee times who must maintain social distancing.
- Bathrooms must be wiped down and cleaned at least every three hours.
- Snack bars or grills open for take-out and carry away only. No congregating in areas surrounding snack bars orgrills. No beverage carts are allowed.
- No golf instructions or academies allowed.
Rules for Course Set-Up
- Carts must be staged at least six feet apart. Carts must not be parked closer than six feet from each other on the course.
- Driving ranges must be closed. Social distancing must be maintained on practice putting greens. Putting greens and practice areas are only available for players ten minutes prior to their tee time.
- No rakes in bunkers and no ball washers.
- All cups on greens must either be raised to prevent the ball from entering the hole or be filled with a liner, whichkeeps the ball from dropping all the way into the hole so that players may remove their ball without touching the flagstick.
- Golfers maintaining the required six feet of social distancing are not required to wear face coverings during play.
- Golfers are required to wear face coverings if they are not able to maintain six feet of social distancing.
To report non-compliance call the police department non-emergency at (915) 832-4400, 3-1-1 or visit www.epstrong.org. The 21-COVID hotline is operational from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For referral to services, contact 2-1-1 and select option six (6).