The biggest priority for Rodger Hogan and his staff at the Chattahoochee Golf Club is to keep course conditions sanitary from tee to green while the country looks to eradicate the coronavirus. Extraordinary measures are being made to keep customers confidence that they’ll be safe, with everyone asked not to get too close to one another or touch foreign surfaces.
Golf courses are exempt from Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, under the banner of outdoor activity and exercise, Hogan said.
Hogan said there’s a great network of communication between local courses to share preventative measures to avoid the possible spread of coronavirus. Golf courses also get feedback from the PGA of America and its state chapter office about best practices.
“We are taking all the necessary steps to make sure that our employees and customers are as safe as possible,” said Hogan, Chattahoochee’s director of golf.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last month, Hogan said the phone at Chattahoochee has been ringing regularly with patrons asking questions. He’s going the extra mile to make sure they have just as an enjoyable experience playing during this time of national uncertainty.
For starters, rules for using golf carts have changed at Chattahoochee. There’s only one rider to each cart, except for family members who live in the same house. After each player returns the cart at the clubhouse, the carts are cleaned from top to bottom. Staff members are wearing protective gloves.
Numbers show how business is booming for the city’s golf course.
During the first week of April, he had an increase of 104 rounds played over the same week in 2019. For March, the course had 346 more rounds played than the same month last year. That gap would have been even higher, had it not been for 8 inches of rain the course received last month, according to Hogan.
Hogan expects it to be even busier with no Masters this week or any other sports on TV. Also, kids’ sports activities have been cancelled for the spring, leaving more time to hit the course.
Bottom line, they’re the only game in town.
“We’ve been very busy,” Hogan said. “Obviously, we’d rather not have this terrible virus going around, but golf is a great way for people to get out and avoid going stir crazy.”
Hogan said avoiding touch points is the umbrella for all changes that Chattahoochee has made that will be in effect until the threat of COVID-19 passes.
One of the most unique moves is cups on the greens are now inserted upside down. With the flag remaining in the hole, the player’s ball comes to rest sticking out above the grass, avoiding any contact of players hands with the cup.
Flag sticks remain in the hole at all times, while water coolers and rakes for sand traps have been removed.
Range tokens are disinfected after each use, while driving range balls are thoroughly cleaned after each customer. Players will see signs asking them not to touch balls on the driving range.
At Chattahoochee, the clubhouse is closed, with the exception of on-duty staff. Players are allowed to check in for their rounds and pay at a stand on the back deck. Only debit or credit cards are allowed for payment, and the requirement of a signature for the cardholder has been waived. Also, no cash is currently being accepted for payment at Chattahoochee.
Chattahoochee’s grill remains open for to-go orders only. The dining room and patio are closed.
Signs as a friendly reminder have been posted on the back deck and on both putting greens to keep proper social distancing, Hogan said.
No more than 10 patrons are allowed on the back deck at one time.
Even with unprecedented constraints, Chattahoochee’s director of golf said its players have responded positively to the precautions put in place.
“I’m glad we can provide this outlet right now for our golfers,” Hogan said.