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Golf groups ask Gov. Tom Wolf to reopen Pennsylvania courses shuttered because of pandemic

FRANK FITZPATRICK
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Golfers enjoy a round last week at Heritage Hills Golf Club. The state's courses, under an order by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, have since been shut down. A number of groups representing the state's golf courses are trying to reverse that order.
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered that Pennsylvania golf courses be shut down.
  • Groups representing the state's courses are trying to get that order reversed.
  • Michigan, which has similar restrictions to Pa., has allowed courses to be open.

A broad coalition of golfing organizations from across Pennsylvania has petitioned Gov. Wolf to allow their courses, shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, to reopen.

In a letter dated Friday, 10 groups that represent the state’s nearly 700 courses, its golf professionals, managers, and superintendents, asked Wolf to reconsider his order closing all businesses that aren’t life-sustaining.

Until that action last Thursday, many private and public clubs in the state remained open to golfers during the coronavirus outbreak, though almost all had shuttered or significantly altered their pro shop, restaurant, snack bar, and instructional operations.

“We believe the field of play, which typically represents over 200 acres of open space land, should be treated differently,” the letter said. “… Socially distant recreation on a golf course is much like taking a walk through one of our wonderful state parks. Course owners all over the country have been taking extra precautions to ensure playing golf is a safe experience that complies with all health advisories and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.”

In Michigan, where Gov. Esther Whitmer has instituted restrictions similar to those imposed by Wolf, golf courses have been permitted to stay open.

“We ask that you similarly do not include the fields of play … in any such mandates,” the letter said.

The groups behind the request included the Philadelphia Section of the PGA, which represents professionals at nearly 300 local clubs, and the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

The other signers were the Philadelphia and Vicinity Club Managers Association; the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents; the Pennsylvania Golf Association; the Tri-State Section of the PGA; the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association; The Club Managers of America, Pittsburgh Chapter; the Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendents; and the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners.