All five American Golf courses in Long Beach will be reopened on Saturday morning after almost two months of lying dormant because of COVID-19 shutdowns. The return of golf and other outdoor activities is part of phase two of Long Beach restarting the local economy.
“It’s really exciting,” American Golf regional general manager Gary Johnson said. “I hated closing the doors. It was a very sad moment. But we did what we had to do. To see them opening back up is incredible.”
El Dorado Park, Skylinks, Heartwell and both Recreation Park courses are all currently taking tee times, but golfers will have a much different experience while checking in or using the driving range. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed, and patrons will be asked to wear a mask.
“Maintaining social distancing is going to be the main part of coming back out to play golf,” Johnson said. “As long as (golfers are) abiding by the rules and wearing their face masks and washing their hands I think it will go very smoothly.”
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced the start of phase two of reopening the city on Wednesday night. That only gave Johnson and his staff about 48 hours to bring employees back while adding the necessary changes to the clubhouse and common areas.
All pro shops will be closed, and golfers will check-in or get range tokens at tables setup outside the doors. Any merchandise request will be taken care of by the staff.
With new plastic shields in place, concession stands and restaurants located at the course will operate for take-out only.
Golf carts will be disinfected and available for single riders. According to Johnson, American Golf is also working with the Long Beach Health Department to allow multiple riders if they live in the same household.
Johnson said his biggest concern is golfers coming to the course without a mask— which are still required if you’re within six feet of anyone.
“I’m seeing a lot of people who don’t care to wear masks,” Johnson said. “Whether they don’t care to or not, it’s not about them. It’s about the people they’re around… At the courses we’re interacting with 200-300 people every day. So please respect the people who are working there and make sure you’re abiding by the rules that are set in place so that we don’t get shutdown again.”
Johnson said golfers must wear masks while checking in and while using the practice facilities. He also said patrons won’t necessarily have to wear a mask while on the course because, “You’ll be in wide open spaces.”
“It’s going to be a madhouse of a weekend, but people are excited,” Johnson said. “ The longer we’re open the more we can bring back. I can’t wait to see it all come through.”