Long Beach golf courses were relatively empty last Thursday, and the poor air quality wasn’t the only reason.
Recreation Park 18, El Dorado, Skylinks, Heartwell and Recreation Park 9 golf courses were all told on Tuesday night that the Los Angeles Country Health Department had approved more strict protocols for outdoor recreation. The changes included a new restriction that only golfers from the same household would be able to play in the same group together.
American Golf runs all five Long Beach public courses, and responded to the order by canceling all of its pre-booked tee times online for the next eight days.
“If Joe Smith wanted to play by himself at 9 a.m. on Saturday, he had to make a tee time by himself,” American Golf regional general manager Gary Johnson said. “He had to take the entire tee time as a single.”
In a break from the way it’s largely been operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the city Of Long Beach Health Department decided to not follow the Los Angeles County order.
On Wednesday, Long Beach officials told American Golf it could go back to the original COVID-19 protocols implemented in May that includes closed restaurants, cart sharing only for people in same household and pins screwed into the holes so golfers aren’t touching the same equipment.
“Last night at around 10 p.m. we got the message from the city of Long Beach,” Johnson said on Thursday. “In a 14-hour period we had to cancel 5,000 reservations and told them they could re-book it. Then 12 hours later we said, ‘Sorry, you can go back to normal,’ so it was a mad dash.”
The city of Pasadena, which also has its own health department, has made the same decision concerning outdoor recreation.
Kelly Colopy, the Director of the Health and Human Services Department for the City of Long Beach, said this isn’t the first time the city has varied from the county health order.
“We align with (the country) in as many ways as we can because regionally it makes more sense but we’re aligned with the state health order at this time,” Colopy said. “It allows for organized outdoor activity, such as a fitness class or golf, but people must maintain distance and must maintain wearing their masks.”
This news got a lot of social media engagement, and even Southern California Golf Association President Bob Livingstone posted on Twitter, “While (Wednesday afternoon) was chaotic, the end result is good/right. Kudos to LB Health and Human Services (and any other decision makers involved) in making a fair and logical decision!!”
Johnson said the response he and the city officials received via email and phone calls has been mixed, but that American Golf is committed to continue to provide the safest possible experience for its patrons.
“You can stay socially distant (on the golf course) and you don’t have to touch anybody,” Johnson said. “It’s safe so I’m glad (Long Beach) made the decision they did. We did everything we could to appease the city and the orders. It put us in a hard spot, but at least people can play golf.”
Johnson said Long Beach courses were not as full today because some golfers didn’t get the news in time to book their tee time again, and that the company will lose, “a couple thousand dollars,” because of the fluid situation.