Denver will reopen its golf courses on Wednesday, April 22, albeit with "strict requirements" to limit possible spread of COVID-19, according to city officials.
"[Guests] will be asked to strictly abide by the at-minimum six-foot physical-distancing requirement at all times on the course," Happy Haynes, the executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, said during an April 20 press conference.
Golf courses in Denver have been closed since March 18, so that the city could "reallocate resources to more essential city operations that are going on right now," Parks and Recreation spokesperson Cyndi Karvaski had told Westword earlier.
And when the golf courses reopen, the golfing experience will be very different.
For starters, golfers will only be able to reserve tee times in advance by phone, as pro shops will remain closed. After arriving in the parking lot, they'll be escorted directly to the tee box by a staff member. Those who prefer to use carts rather than walk will still be able to rent carts, but only one golfer will be allowed in a cart. Carts will be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
On the courses themselves, golfers will notice some major differences to prevent any possible transmission of COVID-19. "Flags will not be removed, and cups will be covered," Haynes explained. That means many golfers could be getting their first-ever hole-in-one. "If your ball rolls over the cup, that is considered a hole out," she noted.
There won't be any shareable equipment on the courses, either. Bunker rakes, ball washers and water coolers will all be gone. And under the new rules, golfers can't share golf equipment, such as bags, clubs, balls or tees. "No borrowing the great driver your friend may have," Haynes said.
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Restrooms will be open at the clubhouses, which will be closed for all other purposes. Food will be available for takeout, so golfers can pre-order a dog or sandwich to take on the course.
Six of Denver's public golf courses (including one actually outside the city, in Evergreen) will be open as of April 22; City Park Golf Course, which had been closed for renovations since November 2017, is set to reopen at the end of summer or in early fall.
"The course is coming along quite well. We intend to let it go through this next growing season," Haynes said.
Driving ranges at all of the golf courses, as well as the Aqua Golf driving range, will remain closed, as will chipping areas. Practice putting greens will be open.
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One more change: It will be more expensive to play a Denver course, since Denver City Council recently approved a golf-course fee increase. Those fees will increase gradually over the next few months.
When the full hike takes effect, the cost of playing a round of eighteen holes during the week will have increased from $29 to $44. The cost for playing on the weekend will have jumped up from $41 to $55.
"It'll keep our pricing basically in line with the other courses in the Denver metro area," says Scott Rethlake, the city's director of golf.
All of the new Denver golf rules can be found on the City of Denver Golf Course website.