BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he isn’t yet ready to allow golf courses to reopen, saying he will leave the decision to the advisory group in charge of deciding the safest way to allow people return to public places following the coronavirus pandemic.
Golf courses remain among the businesses considered non-essential, and thus ordered to remain closed through at least May 18.
Baker was asked about the plan for golf courses during his Wednesday press briefing.
“I think generally I’m going to try to leave most of the decisions about safe openings to the work that’s being done by the Reopening Advisory Board, and certainly that’s something that I know they’ll hear from people about,” Baker said.
The governor said some states have opened golf courses for walking, which he called “an interesting idea.”
“We’ve always talked about making sure that people do get (outside for activity),” Baker said. “It’s one of the reasons we issued an advisory in the first place when it came to stay at home, and not an order – because we wanted people to recognize and understand that visiting a park, taking a walk, going for a run, those were all perfectly appropriate things to do and in fact we wanted people to do that.”
Mass Golf Association Executive Director Jesse Menachem said they’re working with Gov. Baker to get people back out on the course.
“We want to be compared to running, hiking, walking, biking,” Menachem said. “That this is a safe outlet for residents in the Commonwealth to consider in the short term.”
WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche spoke with former PGA star Brad Faxon, who said courses near his home in Florida are starting to reopen.
“Palm Beach County opened today for members only to play at their clubs, you can’t have guests,” Faxon said. “If you’re going to a public facility you’ve got to call for tee times, you can’t get there more than 20 minutes in advance.”
On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced that golf courses in the state can reopen beginning on Friday with social distancing measures.
As of Wednesday morning, according to a Golf.com study, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were two of just seven states that currently have orders in place for courses to remain closed. That number is dropping down to six, however, as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced golf courses will be allowed to reopen May 2.