May 12th, 2020 – What happens when you bring together golf advocates from a traditional muni, a 9-hole, a daily fee plus two privates and a resort course? In Yolo County (also known as YOLO: You-Only-Live-Once county), things get done.
When the pandemic hit and it seemed that golf courses in Yolo County would be closed for an indefinite period of time, CAG Past President, Emmy Moore Minister, and founder of Doctor’s Orders: Play Golf, reached out to nearby golf course operators and invited them to join a countywide task force with a goal to reopen golf.
Besides a handful of savvy course operators, the task force included a few resourceful retirees, all local golfers (a former city fire chief, university professor, and hospital administrator) each contributing in a meaningful way to the get-our-courses-open-again project.
And if that wasn’t enough, there were club members, business leaders and ranchers, plus CAG members, Sacramento lobbyists, and loyal muni golfers who volunteered to advocate in behalf of reopening golf in Yolo County.
Due to Covid-19 concerns, the golf-specific task force (which was the first of its kind in Yolo County), quickly got to work in developing a set of operational guidelines which focused heavily on safety, security, and sanitization, with protocols that would be adaptable to all golf facilities within the jurisdiction. Priorities included establishing ways to remove all touchpoints and ensure that golfers and facility employees would be in a safe and sanitary environment, where 6-ft social distancing would be adhered to at all times.
Securing the county’s approval for reopening did not happen overnight, and actually, the first attempt failed. While the committee was focused on establishing ways to get golfers back on the course, the county’s health officer was laser-focused on flattening Covid-19 cases.
Task force members remained patient, and in the meantime, they shared their draft guidelines and supporting collateral with operators in neighboring counties, who were also faced with the dilemma of course closures.
Communication outreach continued with Yolo County and follow-up letters were sent to the county’s executive staff, public health officer, and to elected officials. Additionally, they received a Golf Spatial Consideration Chart which illustrated the excessive amount of open space that golf provides each player, coupled with its naturally “built in” social distancing mechanism.
Community leaders also received factual data from medical experts about the numerous Health Benefits of Golf. The outdoor activity of golf has long-been known to reduce anxiety, improve heart health, strengthen body mobility, burn calories, improve circulation, along with its other wellness attributes.
Complying with social distancing, a Zoom meeting was scheduled with Yolo County officials and task force members, where guidelines modeled after the “Placer Golf Course Physical Distancing Plan” were discussed, slightly modified, and accepted. Shortly thereafter, the county’s public health officer amended the health order, and a few days later, all six courses were permitted to open their doors to golfers once again.
PHOTO: Golf course operators within Yolo County stand in unison at Wildhorse GC (Davis, CA) all-while practicing 6-ft. social distancing. (L to R) Task Force Chair Phil Marler (Yolo Fliers Club), Mark Hansen (Davis Municipal GC), Randy Thomas (Wild Wings GC), Rusty Seymour (El Macero CC), Emmy Moore-Minister (Doctors Orders: Play Golf), Chuck Klein and Charlie Klein (Wildhorse GC), Chris Sheffield (Yocha Dehe GC at Cache Creek).