With new golf courses constantly being built and existing courses getting upgrades, Orange County has always been a hot spot for golfers.

Here in Irvine, we have a number of distinguished golf courses: Oak Creek Golf Course, Strawberry Farms Golf Course, Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course, and Shady Canyon Golf Club.  There are also several nearby courses, such as Tustin Ranch Golf Course, Costa Mesa Country Club, and Newport Beach Golf Course.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, golf courses were shut down.  As a result, memberships took a major hit and some worried whether golf courses could survive the closures.  But, in the past few months, golf enthusiasm has skyrocketed!

The main reason for this boom in popularity is that golf is played outdoors, and it’s relatively easy to stay safe.  Basically, if you can go for a walk outside, keep your mask on, and stay at least six feet away from others, you can golf. 

Unlike other sports, golf does not require you to touch or even come close to anyone else.  And many golf courses have made adjustments to further limit contact with others.

Some of the COVID-19 safety protocols that local golf courses have implemented include:

  • Golfers and staff are required to wear a mask at all times
  • Everyone on the course (unless they are in the same household) must maintain 6 feet of physical distancing at all times
  • Only one person is allowed in a golf cart (unless they are in the same household)
  • Reservations must be made online
  • Check-in is done outdoors (or one person at a time if indoors)
  • Additional distance has been added to driving range facilities
  • All golf carts and clubhouse check-in areas are sanitized on a regular basis

When I reached out to a few of our local courses, I was told that they are busier than ever.  This is evident just in terms of booking tee times.  In the past, if you wanted a weekend tee time there would still be times available just 2-3 days in advance for you to reserve.  Some courses would even offer the option of “walking on,” which means you show up without a tee time and get to play immediately or after a short wait.  But today, tee times are hard to come by.  Golfers now need to book at least a week in advance to get their desired starting time slot.

So the next time you are looking to get out on the course, be sure to book your tee time early.  And although courses have introduced new safety protocols, be sure to do your part to keep you and others safe.  That means always wear your face mask and adhere to the physical distancing guidelines.

Joel Smith