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Local private golf clubs send letter to County Supervisor requesting play to be allowed

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Riverside County Supervisor Manny Perez says the county will not alter its "stay at home" orders for private golf clubs after the board members of 21 private clubs around Coachella Valley sent a letter asking to allow its members to engage in safe golf activities.

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Last week, Riverside County ordered that all public and private courses must be closed. Maintenance workers are allowed to continue working on courses so clubs will be able to resume operations once the state and local orders are lifted, according to the county's FAQ section.

Board members of private clubs noted that numerous counties across California made their own determinations regarding golf. For instance, Sacramento County allows golf on public and private courses. Monterey County allows golf on private courses. Public and private courses are open in Oceanside, Chula Vista, and Escondido.

The message and belief of the golf club board members is that golf should be treated the same as any other recreational activity that is allowed during the stay at home order with social distancing.

"We believe that golf should be treated the same as walking, running, cycling and other outdoor recreational sports and activities that offer the benefits of social distancing," reads the letter in part, from general managers of most of the valley's private clubs. "By the game’s nature, golfers play more than six feet apart and, in most cases, remain up to hundreds of feet apart,"

The managers of Coachella Valley's private clubs asked that the county allow private golf clubs to maintain social distancing while remaining open for restricted play.

Additionally, they suggested these changes:

  • Close clubhouse, men’s and women’s locker rooms  
  • Eliminate all golf support staff services  
  • Limit play to members and spouses only  
  • Close driving ranges and practice facilities  
  • Close pro shop and starter posts 
  • Eliminate all rakes in bunkers  
  • Remove flag sticks from greens  
  • Invert cups on greens to prevent ball from dropping in hole  
  • Sanitize fleet carts before and after each use  
  • Require one person per private cart except for spouses  
  • Remove all ball washers and garbage receptacles  
  • Remove bottled water from the course  
  • Eliminate private golf lessons 

Supervisor Perez told News Channel 3's Blake Arthur that the county's decision on the matter has not changed. This means that golf is still not allowed.

County health officials continue to ask residents to stay in place, maintain your space, and cover your face.

As of Tuesday, there are 371 cases in Riverside County, including nine deaths. Here in the Coachella Valley, there are at least 124 confirmed cases.

Visit our coronavirus section for the latest updates

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Full letter below:

"Dear Riverside County Supervisor Perez,

We are writing on behalf of 21 private golf clubs in the Coachella Valley and our more than 13,000 members. We are seeking a modification of the state and county “stay at home” orders to permit homeowners and members of our private clubs to engage in safe, recreational golf activities that are consistent with practicing outdoor social distancing guidelines.

The Governor of California’s Executive Order N–33– 20 issued March 19, 2020 created more questions than answers regarding allowable activities under the “stay-at-home” order. The FAQ’s issued by the County of Riverside Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser on March 24 and updated on March 26 caused even greater confusion. Consequently, public and private golf courses throughout Riverside County have been implementing various—and inconsistent—operating guidelines in an effort to comply with government-issued directives.

In recent days, numerous counties in California have made their own determinations regarding the playing of golf on public and private courses. Sacramento County currently is allowing golf on numerous public and private courses. Monterey County is allowing golf on private courses so long as social distancing and other recommended safety guidelines are followed. Public and private courses in Oceanside, Chula Vista and Escondido also are open. Moreover, Riverside County officials have informed us that they consider the orders to be voluntary as they lack the personnel and resources to enforce them.

Numerous articles have been written in the last few days about the conflicting and inconsistent guidelines being implemented by public and private golf course. Specifically, we refer you to March 27 articles published in Golf Digest by Michael Johnson and in the Desert Sun by Larry Bohannon.

We believe that golf should be treated the same as walking, running, cycling and other outdoor recreational sports and activities that offer the benefits of social distancing. By the game’s nature, golfers play more than six feet apart and, in most cases, remain up to hundreds of feet apart.

We would like to propose the following guidelines for use in Riverside County to allow private golf clubs to maintain social distancing while remaining open for restricted play:  

  • Close clubhouse, men’s and women’s locker rooms  
  • Eliminate all golf support staff services  
  • Limit play to members and spouses only  
  • Close driving ranges and practice facilities  
  • Close pro shop and starter posts 
  • Eliminate all rakes in bunkers  
  • Remove flag sticks from greens  
  • Invert cups on greens to prevent ball from dropping in hole  
  • Sanitize fleet carts before and after each use  
  • Require one person per private cart except for spouses  
  • Remove all ball washers and garbage receptacles  
  • Remove bottled water from the course  
  • Eliminate private golf lessons 

We understand that semi-private and public courses lack the ability to enforce these pro-active measures. But that should not prevent Riverside County from allowing private golf clubs to offer safe recreational activities to their members. Indeed, playing a round of golf under these precautionary measures is certainly safer than walking into a grocery store or keeping an appointment at the DMV.

Moreover, we believe it is important for you to consider the many health benefits to seniors who participate in golf. They include increased levels of physical activity as well as camaraderie and mental acuity. Research conducted by Scotland’s University of Edinburgh suggests that golf helps cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic health.

Requiring our seniors, the most vulnerable population to COVID-19 exposure, to remain shuttered inside their homes will only contribute to their isolation and inactivity. Indeed, our members in the Coachella Valley are looking forward to having the ability to exercise outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery and serenity of our golf courses.

We appreciate your consideration of our request to revisit this decision and re-open private golf courses that have adopted these extensive precautions in Riverside County as soon as possible."

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Jesus Reyes

Blake Arthur

Sports Director Blake Arthur joined the KESQ/CBS Local 2 team in August of 2015. Learn more about Blake here.

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