AJ Gray

Former Milton boys golfer AJ Gray takes a shot at Oak Ridge Golf Course April 20, 2019. Oak Ridge, along with other state courses, had restrictions eased on Wednesday, April 29.

Area golf courses had several restrictions lifted on Wednesday, April 29, which has helped business, according to Oak Ridge Golf Course owner Kirk Wieland.

Oak Ridge, which is located in Milton, was permitted to offer golf cart and push cart rentals, carry-out food and beverage orders and reopened its bar after starting the golf season on Friday, April 24, essentially barebones.

State courses were closed before April 24 with concerns of COVID-19.

“A week ago we weren’t supposed to open up with carts unless for handicap and disabled. The order was kind of confusing with alcoholic beverages and to-go,” Wieland said. “Now everyone knows exactly what we can do. It’s definitely a lot better.”

Social distancing rules are still adhered to at the course and at all courses. The bar is only open for drinks that are consumed while on the course, meaning people may not congregate at the bar. Carts may be shared with another rider, but only if that pair share the same household.

“It’s definitely kind of a learning curve for everyone in terms of how the operations of golf courses are supposed to work,” Wieland said.

According to Wieland, one of the biggest changes for Oak Ridge is transforming into a course where people normally walk in without a tee time and golf, to a course that now accepts prepayments and online bookings.

“It’s just different to try and acclimate people to making the tee time in advance,” Wieland said.

Wieland said this last weekend (May 1-3) his course had a really good stretch of days of business, contributing it to the eased restrictions and golfer-friendly weather.

“I think all courses had a really good weekend,” Wieland said. “What happens is you go the whole winter and no one is able to golf and all the people want to golf. When it gets to late March or early April and there is a beautiful day, everyone is chomping at the bit. But we couldn’t, so that cabin fever was setting in for people.

“This last weekend was really good. People just want to get outside whether it’s golf or just going outside.”

If COVID-19 continues to improve, there will likely be more restrictions dropped for golf courses, but Wieland said he doesn’t expect for things to go back to normal following the next set of restrictions lifted.

“We’re never going to have the season we wanted even though it’s early,” Wieland said. “But it’s far better this week than a week ago with what we’re able to do.”

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