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West Hartford to Reopen Golf Courses Sunday

Rockledge Men's Club members at Member-Guest. (we-ha.com file photo)

The Town of West Hartford has announced that both Rockledge Golf Club and Buena Vista Golf Course will reopen as of 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 10.

By Ronni Newton

Sunday is Mother’s Day, but now there is another occasion to celebrate in West Hartford: the reopening of the town’s two municipal golf courses.

The Town of West Hartford announced Thursday that both Rockledge Golf Club and Buena Vista Golf Course will reopen on Sunday, May 10, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Online booking for Rockledge will be available beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at www.rockledgegolf.com.

For the remainder of May, tee times will be available, weather permitting, from 8 a.m. through dusk.

Activity on the courses has been unregulated since the decision to close the facilities was made in the middle of March amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the decision to reopen is in part to “maintain control over safe practices,” town officials said.

“We understand that golfing is an important source of exercise and well-being for many,” said Helen Rubino-Turco, director of Leisure Services and Social Services. “We expect that our golfing community will show that golf can be played safely and responsibly during this pandemic.”

Mayor Shari Cantor said she is also confident “that the town will be able to operate these facilities with strong safety protocols and adhere to physical distancing.”

“We are 100 percent ready to go with strict physical distancing guidelines in place,” said Rockledge Golf Pro Rich Crowe. “Our goal is to ensure the safety of our staff and our patrons.”

Safe practices that must be adhered to will involve significant restrictions, for operators and golfers alike. The protocols will include:

  • Proper physical distancing
  • Wearing of face coverings by patrons while checking in, near the clubhouse, and near the starter shack
  • Credit card transactions only
  • Tee times for Rockledge must be reserved online at www.rockledgegolf.com
  • Single-use carts only other than for members of the same household

The Rockledge Grille, as well as the clubhouse, pro shop, and snack bar, will remain closed. The restroom in the center of the course will be open for use by all patrons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical distancing of 6 feet is currently recommended, and golf course patrons will be required to keep that distance before, during, and after play, town officials said.

Golfers will not be permitted to congregate in large groups before or after play and will be asked to arrive just before their tee tie and line up on the driveway until they are called. They will be asked to continue to practice safe distancing in the parking lot following play as well.

Crow said there will be signage, as well as extra staff on site to remind everyone of the rules.

“We all need to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and adhere to physical distancing and other safety guidelines,” said Rubino-Turco. While this is not quite a “green light” for golfing as many are used to playing, it should be seen as more of an “orange light,” she said.

“You can easily play golf without being in close proximity with other people. It’s similar to walking in a park, which people are allowed to do, so long as they practice physical distancing,” said Rubino-Turco.

Starting times will be available for the re-opening weekend beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, and tee times are being spaced out in 10-minute intervals to all for more time between starts. To book and pay online, visit www.rockledgegolf.com. Those who are new to the online system Club Prophet will need to first create an account before booking a tee time.

Following the reopening weekend, starting time reservations may be made online seven days in advance for weekdays and four days in advance for weekend and holidays. The online system for reservations will open daily at 6 a.m., and the lottery system for booking tee times will no longer be available.

Walking the course is recommended, but carts will be available for use at Rockledge for $18 each – one per customer – and must be booked in advance. Couples who reside in the same household may share a cart for $36 per couple.

Buena Vista will not have carts available at this time. All transactions for the 9-hole course will be credit-card only, and will be first-come, first-served at the starter shack beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Golfers will notice other changes to reduce “touch points” in order to ensure the safety of all and reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Rakes have been removed from bunkers and ball washers are not available.

“We maintain the position that we will adjust or close the operations if we cannot maintain the safety and wellbeing of all of the patrons, our residents, and staff,” Cantor said.

“We ask all patrons to follow and help enforce the safety rules,” Rubino-Turco said. “We trust that golfers in West Hartford will adhere to the safety protocols and lead by example to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Trails at the golf courses that have been used by walkers and runners will close when the courses are open, Rubino-Turco said.

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