'Every Course Is Just Getting Slammed': Pittsburgh-Area Golfers Traveling To Ohio And W. Va To Find Open Courses During Coronavirus Closures
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The sounds of the golf season are silent in Pennsylvania.
"We called probably ten courses up here, and we realized they were all shut down," said Fox Chapel's Dimitri Spina.
Spina, a junior in college, and his friends decided to take their clubs to West Virginia.
That's because the stay-at-home order has put golf course operations in Pennsylvania on hold.
Mike Reimer is one of the co-owners of Pheasant Ridge Golf Club in Gibsonia. He says no players means no revenue. Yet it doesn't mean his crews can park the mowers and stop taking care of the course.
"If I go one month without maintaining this property right, it would take me three months to get it back," says Reimer.
Adding to the sting, a big number of the regulars who tee it up locally are now driving to West Virginia and Ohio.
Despite stay at home orders there, golf courses are open. They are very happy to see Pennsylvania drivers who are anxious to swing their drivers.
At Bedford Trails Golf Course in Lowellville, Ohio, the owners say 95 percent of the people who played there on Sunday were from the Pittsburgh area.
Spina says the same thing was true when he asked at Oglebay near Wheeling.
- Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Protesters Gather Outside State Capitol, Demanding Gov. Tom Wolf Reopens The Economy
- Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Announces Plan For Gradually Reopening Economy Using 'Data-Driven' And 'Regional' Approach
- Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Businesses Required To Deny Entry To Customers Without Masks
- Coronavirus Closures: Gov. Tom Wolf Likely To Veto Bill To Reopen Pa. Businesses
- Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: State Health Officials Implement Worker Safety Measures, Including Mask Requirement For All Employees
- Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Asks Residents To Be Patient, Says There's No Set Date For Relaxing Stay-At-Home Order
"We said, 'Hey, are all the courses down here the same way? Are they all packed?' And he said, 'Yeah, I mean every course is just getting slammed.'"
Neighboring states have strict rules, and it is more than just not talking while someone else is putting.
"If the health inspector comes by here, and he sees you guys in the same cart and you're not in the same family household, he's gonna shut us down," Spina said.
As a result, every player gets their own cart.
At a course near Youngstown, Ohio, the flagsticks are cut off at 3 feet, meaning you never touch the flag to pull it out to putt.
Even the cups are different. Now, the ball never goes into the hole to eliminate a common high-traffic touch zone.
Still, Reimer says golf has been booming this spring largely because there are no team sports for kids to play or for their parents to watch.
"More and more of these kids are playing golf now for the very first time," said Reimer. "It's very exciting. All my colleagues in Florida and in Texas, in the southwest of the country, are seeing a 30 percent increase in their year-over-year rounds. It's exciting. I'm excited to get open."
But he has no idea when that is going to be. And he knows his clientele may be quite different when they are allowed to re-open.
"I have an 81-year-old mom, I wouldn't want her coming out here today. They need to stay away for a season. I don't know how long that season is right now, but I'm going to lose some of my seniors for the next three to six months," Reimer said.
More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:
- CDC Coronavirus Information
- CDC Global Map of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
- Pennsylvania Department of Health Information
- Pennsylvania County-By-County Map
- Allegheny County Health Department Information
Spina, who also works as a caddie at Fox Chapel Golf Club, expects it to be a very different summer on the links.
"We are going to see a lot of people that are going to be negatively affected by this, and I just hope and pray that we can have our great game back here pretty soon," Spina said.
for more features.