Local golf courses remain open, encourage social distancing

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Local golf courses have remained open since last Tuesday’s executive order from Governor Greg Abbott which shuttered “non-essential” businesses and encouraged residents to stay home except for essential tasks such as grocery shopping, or for exercise and use of parks, among other exceptions. As of Monday morning, all three local golf courses remain open, including Scott-Schreiner Municipal Golf Course, Riverhill Country Club, and Comanche Trace.

In addition to Kerrville, golf courses are still open in Fredericksburg, Comfort, Boerne, and other neighboring communities. Some courses remain open in Dallas and Houston. Courses are open in New York and Florida, as long as proper social distancing measures are enforced. In states where courses have been closed, some owners are filing suit against the state alleging an infringement on fifth amendment rights against seizure.

On April 3, a website that tracks course closures reports for Texas: “Governor Abbott’s statewide order allows courses to be open. Local governments can issue stricter orders. Tarrant County ordered residents to shelter in place. The City of Austin, Texas, has closed all of its municipal golf courses. Dallas County, Texas, has issued a shelter-in-place order that still allows people to leave their home to exercise while practicing social distancing. The City of Dallas has closed its six municipal golf courses.”

However, courses are closed in San Antonio. San Antonio golf courses were open until Friday, when Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a clarification that closed all courses at 11:59 PM Friday, April 3. Driving ranges can remain open in San Antonio. Unverified reports from two Kerrville residents over the weekend stated that numerous golfers from San Antonio had been seen golfing in Kerrville.

Governor Abbott’s March 31 executive order stated that all Texans shall minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. He outlined “essential services” and stated that Texans should only leave home to access (or provide) those essential services as outlined in the US Department of Homeland Security’s guidance. Golf courses and recreational facilities are not listed as an essential service in the document Abbott referenced.

The governor’s order also stated, “This executive order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station, providing or obtaining other essential services, visiting parks, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging or bicycling, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

Local golf courses have encouraged proper social distancing, and some services such as food and beverage have been adjusted to abide by CDC recommendations, including offering carry-out only. At the municipal golf course and the private clubs, workers are sterilizing carts between rounds and emphasizing social distancing. Only one golfer is allowed per cart unless they share a household (husband and wife, father and son, etc.).

At courses like Riverhill and Comanche Trace, many members own their own carts, and play with members of their own households. For some older residents, golf is the only form of exercise and fresh air that is available. We talked to golfers who described extra careful measures that are in place at these clubs, and the golfers themselves are practicing social distancing.

Additional information will be added as we receive it.