New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has been a proactive governor during the crisis, issuing early stay-at-home orders to protect citizens and require them to remain home.
Governor Murphy issued a stay-at-home order early on, requiring non-essential businesses to close and citizens to stay at home unless they had to go obtain emergency services, get food or get light exercise. Golf courses were considered non-essential, and courses throughout the state had to close.
However, New Jersey golf courses can once again open thanks to changes made by Governor Murphy.
In a new order that will start May 2, golf courses will be allowed to open again. Golf courses will be opening along with state parks.
Per the directive, golf courses must comply with Governor Murphy's state order around workplace safety practices. In addition, there are state-specific regulations for courses, including:
- Requiring all reservations, cancellations and pre-payments be made via electronic or telephone reservation systems
- Limit tee times to two players, expanding to four for immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners
- Tee times must be 16 minutes apart
- Golf carts can only have a single rider, unless the paired rider is the driver's immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.
Courses are required to close gathering spaces, like clubhouses, locker rooms, lounges and the like. Golfers have been required to leave quickly after their rounds. Courses have taken precautions to remove shared surfaces like bunker rakes, ball washers and water coolers. Tee times have been spaced out, and golfers are required to observe social distancing guidelines. Cups and holes will be removed from practice greens.
This is great news for golfers in New Jersey, as the state becomes to fourth to allow golf courses to re-open after being closed for several weeks. Wisconsin re-opened on April 24. Minnesota announced a reversal of previous closures. Illinois and Pennsylvania courses re-open on May 1. Washington golf courses re-open on May 5.