Amid various stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders throughout the country as the coronavirus pandemic continues, the National Golf Foundation reported that more than half of the golf courses in the Untied States are currently shut down.
That’s not the case in one of the largest golf-centric communities in Florida, however.
The Villages, a 130,000-plus person active adult retirement community located about an hour northwest of Orlando, still has their golf courses — 12 championship courses, 41 executive courses and 2 other short courses — open for business.
“We are still operating,” Gordy Carlson, the head professional at Orange Blossom Hills Country Club, the oldest championship course in The Villages, told The Morning Read’s Steve Trivett. “We have found things we needed to change to make playing golf safe for our residents, and right now we are doing what we can to allow people to play the game they love to play.”
“This is The Villages. There would be a riot if they stopped golf,” one resident told The Associated Press.
Officials in Florida’s Sumter County, where most of The Villages is located, issued a stay-at-home advisory effective April 3rd, but clarified that golf was on the approved list of exercises.
There won’t be any riot — at least not yet.
“Golfing provides the same opportunity within the Governor’s executive order for social distancing, particularly in the manner in which the golf courses are managing the process,” Sumter County Administrator Bradley Arnold said.
At The Villages in Florida, just about every facet of society has come to a halt. Golf is the exception as it continues to serve as the lifeblood of the community. https://t.co/WP7NjvUGx9 pic.twitter.com/6CrBcU8KYG
— Morning Read (@TheMorningRead) April 8, 2020
The median age of residents in The Villages is about 72 years old, and nearly 80% of residents are older than 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which puts the population at a higher risk of complications arising from the virus, according to some experts.
As a result, various precautions have been put in place to ensure proper social distancing.
“Under new regulations, tee times have been assigned farther apart, each player is allowed to take his or her own golf cart (not a problem in The Villages, where nearly every household owns at least one cart), ball washers have been closed, flagsticks remain in the holes and all restaurants and bars at the courses have been closed,” Trivett wrote.