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As golf courses across the state are allowed to reopen, golfers head out to enjoy the sport on Friday at Briarwood Golf Club. York Dispatch

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Their shots may have been a little off target after a month-long break, but local golfers were all smiles following their first swings after courses in the state were allowed to open on Friday.

At Briarwood Golf Club, Phillip Mengelkamp was excited to finally test out the set of clubs he assembled during quarantine with parts he ordered. That was until he actually made contact with a ball.

“I was really looking forward to it until I shanked five in a row,” Mengelkamp said with a laugh. “Other than that, it’s been a lot of fun.”

Following the guidelines: While Mengelkamp just made a stop at Briarwood to use the driving range, the course was full of golfers on the first day they were able to get back on the links. 

Lori Maranto, who has been staying in York Township with her mother Janet Masters for the past six weeks, called two courses with no luck before she secured a tee time at Briarwood. The guidelines from the state allowed only one golfer per cart, but since Maranto and Masters live together they were allowed to share a golf cart.

Other restrictions the courses were required to take so they could reopen were: no rakes in bunkers, no water coolers or ball-washing stations, no removing the flagsticks and one person in the clubhouse at a time. 

Maranto said despite the restrictions the pair had a nice day and the new guidelines allowed her to comfortably play a round with her mother.

“They really made great accommodations so we could stay safe while we were playing,” Maranto said. “They really communicated well what we could do to stay safe and protect ourselves.” 

Waiting on Wolf: Many golfers in Pennsylvania have been vocal in the past month about their belief that Gov. Tom Wolf should allow the courses, which have been forced to close since late March because of coronavirus pandemic, to reopen. 

Vince Aumen of Abbottstown was one of those people that had been waiting for the day that Wolf would give the word that the local links could resume business. While he wasn’t happy about how long it took to happen, he was pleased to get out in the fresh air on Friday.

“I’m glad he finally decided to change his mind and allowed people to go out and enjoy the sunshine,” Aumen said. “I think it’s been a long time coming. (We) might have been able to do it before, but you gotta wait your turn. There’s precautions that have to be taken, but everything will get back.” 

No issues: Aumen had no issues with the guidelines that Briarwood had to take so he could play a round. He brought his own water and wasn’t concerned about not being able to use the washing stations for his golf balls. Maranto wore two gloves on Friday instead of her usual one glove and Mengelkamp wore a mask during his driving range session.

All golfers were required to wear a mask when they entered the clubhouse, but most did not wear a mask while playing. All staff were wearing masks and were not made available for comment by course management. 

It might not be the exact sport they are used to playing, but the local golfers finally got their wish and got back on the course Friday. It may be a while before they’re allowed to shake hands after a round and share a golf cart or a beer at the 19th hole after a day on the links, but a chance to get outside and play the game they love is a good start in a return to normalcy.

“Anytime you can get out in the sunshine, get out and enjoy nature, the weather and a sport you love, there’s no words for that,” Aumen said.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.

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