Some Massachusetts Golfers Ignore Ban, Play On

A warm spring weekend on the Northeast was enough to coax golfers out of their homes and onto the golf course in at least one of 11 states currently banning the playing of golf under executive order.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker shut down non-essential businesses, which included all golf courses, on March 23, but’s Tom Gorman found a much different scene than the governor’s office would likely would approve of over the weekend.

Gorman reported that over 100 golfers flocked to Ponkapoag Golf Course, a state-owned and managed golf property featuring 36 holes. With no pins or cups cut in the greens, golfers made due on the courses that had been shut down days prior, but were able to continue being maintained under the executive order.

“Per the updated COVID-19 Essential Service FAQ website, golf operations and playing golf at a Massachusetts golf course, country club or facility is not permitted as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon,” a statement on the Mass Golf website reads. “As per our previous email, golf course and facility maintenance is still allowed per the landscaping guidance provided by Mark Fuller, Undersecretary of Business Growth Development at Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development at Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“This is an extremely difficult time for all of us and in complying with the Governor’s orders, we are all working towards being able to return to the game we care so deeply about in the future,” Mass Golf Executive Director Jesse Menachem told Gorman. “The number of states allowing golf changes daily but Massachusetts is one of six states not allowing golf. We know golf can be played with proper social distancing and complying with all Center for Disease Control requirements.”

Gorman visited six other golf courses that were completely closed — Blue Hill Country Club, Wampatuck Country Club and Milton Hoosic Club, Wollaston Golf Club, Dedham Country & Polo Club and Needham Golf Club — but found Thorny Lea Golf Club, the home club of Brockton firefighter, 2017 U.S. Mid-Am Champion and 2019 Masters and U.S. Open participant Matt Parziale, bustling with activity.

A member told Gorman that they were allowed to play as equity owners of the club. 

Norfolk Golf Club in Westwood was also filled with golfers over the weekend.

If you’re wondering what the status of golf in your state is during the coronavirus pandemic, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is keeping a daily state-by-state list of golf course openings and closures based upon executive order. You can find out what the latest rules are in your state by clicking here.