Los Angeles County has issued significant changes to its golf health orders in response to last week’s move to the “Yellow Tier” under the state’s “Reopening the Economy” protocols.
With respect to those changes that are very specific to golf as opposed to the indoor/outdoor event and dining protocols that are applicable to those golf course activities that are universal, the most significant are: Fully vaccinated persons may remove face coverings while “on course” and when riding in a golf car with others who are fully vaccinated. Groups of 5 are now permitted, albeit in tee times separated by no less than 10 minutes. Shotgun starts are now permitted, albeit under all other restrictions regarding social distancing and indoor/outdoor events. Participant to student ratio for group instruction has been extended to 8:1. Bunker rakes, ball washers, divot boxes, benches and regular holes/flagsticks are permitted. With respect to “those golf course activities that are universal” the rules that apply are not detailed in the Golf Appendix but rather incorporated by reference to other Appendices and protocols therein – e.g., “retail establishment” and “restaurant protocols,” which are directly linked in the updated/revised Golf Appendix. Read together, they lay out precisely what a Los Angeles County golf operation may now do and how it can do it. Click here to read the updated Golf Appendix.
To refresh everyone’s memories, competitions were sanctioned when Los Angeles County moved to the Orange Tier in March, as were a whole host of practices such as double occupancy golf cars, water fountains for the purpose of refilling water bottles, beverage carts, cash acceptance, group golf lessons/coaching, and short game practice areas.
In short, Los Angeles County golf now parallels the golf played in Southern California’s other nine (9) counties – not in every detail but eerily close.
Nothing surprising in that. Los Angeles County elected to hew to most but not all of the permissions the state designates for “Yellow Tier” counties. Examples: 1) The state sets no capacity restrictions for indoor museum, zoo, and aquarium spaces, but Los Angeles County is limiting them to 75% capacity; 2) the state sets no limits on grocery and retail establishments in the Yellow Tier, but LA County is maintaining a 75% cap; and 3) the same applies to hair salons, barbershops, and personal care businesses, where the state applies no limits in the Yellow Tier, but LA County is limiting them to 75% capacity.
Interestingly, Long Beach and Pasadena, which have used the authority of their separate health departments to deviate from LA County regarding the above capacity restrictions, have not seen fit to do so with respect to the golf specific items in the new LA County Golf Appendix. But they are likely to follow suit quickly.
The COVID finish line is within sight – nothing akin to eradication, but certainly to some semblance of normality.
Golf has performed superbly throughout and, in the process, reminded itself why it has endured for 500 years, while so many other activities have risen, fallen, and disappeared. There is just something of eternal and visceral value to a walk in nature with family and friends that can be enjoyed from youth to dotage while polishing a set of skills that can never really be perfected and practicing a culture based on ancient verities.
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