Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

03 Apr
2020

Golfers Beware - "The Law" Watching

Written by Bob Oliver

We've been keeping you apprised of where golf is being played and where it's prohibited. And while 28 states are allowing play, several are not allowing play of non-residents in his time of COVID-19. 

Yesterday three Massachusetts residents were issued summons which could result in 90 days in the pokey for playing in Rhode Island at the Meadowbrook Golf Course.   Police said the three were in the state for a non-recognized work purpose. 

For Bucks County golfers, the closest state allowing golf is Delaware, which like Rhode Island clamped down on non-resident play Monday. While courses are open for business, that business must come only from residents of the state.

"We had been getting about 30 percent of our play from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland residents, but no more," explained PGA professional and course operator at Frog Hollow, Patrick Keefe. '

The 1978 grad of Neshaminy High School had been seeing lots of old friends from the Keystone state in recent weeks. "The directive is pretty clear, and we've had troopers visit."

Apparently it won't be long before state line crossing golfers will be sharing cells with sharing jail cells wtih bank robbers and arsonists said one wag.

Keefe did assure that social distancing, spacing of tee times, flagsticks are not to be touched and similar precautions are being taken.

CHIP SHOTS: Keefe played for coaches Dick Chubb and WIlliam Smith while playing for the Redskins. He's a former head pro at Inniscrone...Frog Hollow is a nice residential course in Middletown, Delaware, which challenges all level of player....From the optimsm department, the LPGA has announced a tentative schedule of events assuming the season restarts. Aronimink, in Newtown Square, will host the KPMG Women's PGA Championship June 25-28, while the ShopRite LPGA Championship will be held at Seaview (Bay) Golf Club July 31 through August 2. Of course, this is subject to the COVID-19 problem being stopped. 

 

30 Mar
2020

Golf takes a hit from COVID-19

Written by Bob Oliver

 

The embargo on golf by Governor Wolf in response to the COVID-19 situation has shuttered Keystone State courses for the last two weeks.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania as well as 17 other states have prohibited play at golf courses in their state according to the National Golf Foundation.  Some other states have partial restrictions, while 28 states allow golf to be played.  It's a very fluid situation, and changes are being made on a daily basis. 

Delaware has allowed its courses to remain open. The state open for play that is closest to Bucks County golfers, however, had a change this afternoon announced from the governor's office. Delaware courses will no longer be able to book tee times from non-Delaware residents. It is unclear how walk ups or those without "papers" will be handled. 

The NGF survey of more than 1000 member courses found that as of March 27, 2020, approximately 74 percent of the nation's golf courses remain open.  That's of little solace to Bucks County golfers who are hours away from places to play. 

The southern half of the United States allow play for the most part as even hard-hit COVID-19 states like Louisiana have not formally closed courses on a statewide basis. Many counties in Ohio continue to allow play. The Arizona governor today proclaimed golf “essential” and continues to allow play   

Having said that, golf courses in 87 percent of facilities have closed/restricted its inside dining room areas, and nearly 30% have closed access to clubhouse facilities. A quarter of those surveyed have closed or restricted access to pro shop.

The NGF survey found that 65 percent of club operators described the COVID-19 problem as having a significant effect or more on its operations. 

Surprisingly the winter months had been pointing to a superb resurgence in the game. Rounds played increased dramatically year-over-year in the months of January and February.  

Golfers who were considering purchase of new equipment have put such purchases on hold, according to the NGF survey as they monitor the virus. 

For Bucks County golfers, hunker down. There's no meaningful golf in the near future, but with some luck it won't be long before you'll be back on the course. In the meantime remember the social distancing recommendations from the government. Always practice good hygiene such as washing hands, refraining from touching face and disinfect items and surfaces as much as possible. 

Be safe, be careful and think about a future return to normalcy. 

CHIP SHOTS:  While Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued a "stay at home" order, he includes golf as an "Essential service" exemption. "We do not want people to feel trapped or isolated in their homes," explained the governor. The Cactus women's tour continues competition. This is the tour LPGA star Anna Nordqvist won on two weeks ago....Speaking off the record, a source close to the LPGA's ShopRite Classic says it is "highly doubtful" the 2020 event will be held. in late May. Time will tell...A petition to reopen some courses in New Jersey is in the process of being developed in hopes Gov. Murphy loosens restrictions on play.    

27 Mar
2020

Coping without golf

Written by Bob Oliver

 

These are obviously trying times.  The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll, and people are worried about its fangs.  Rightfully so.

Yet in a time of business shutdowns, social distancing, quarantines and such there are several givens in preventions.  Like washing hands endlessly and not rubbing your face.  Avoiding discretionary travel. Work from home if possible.

Golfers lament time away from the course, playing the game they love, as governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland have shuttered golf courses. At last count 21 states have closed golf courses, while 28 states remain open for play.  One state, Alaska, is closed but snow has a way of keeping players off the course.

Linfield National's Rob Kloeckner, a Neshaminy grad, has petitioned the state for a waiver to no avail.  So have three course operators from the Pittsburgh area.   

Delaware Courses are open for the most part, with social distancing guidelines (one to a cart, or no motorized carts at all, locked pro shops, no toughing flagsticks, etc.) in place as safety is important. One owner operator in Delaware said business has been brisk with the closure of courses in neighboring states. 

Near all courses are being maintained as the closures have not ended caring for course work, so once a handle on the virus is fixed openings could come fast, especially in less populated areas. 

Patience required.

If you want to keep the muscles working, the Mad Golfer in Southampton is open for self service practice. 

For my golf fix I recently watched a replay of the 2019 Masters Tournament. Spoiler alert, a guy in a red shirt did pretty well. 

 

 

 

17 Mar
2020

Corona virus effects everyone

Written by Bob Oliver

Covid 19. 

That's the phrase of the year. Maybe decade. Maybe longer.

The "Corona virus" has affected the United States as part of the world pandemic of a new strain of flu. Measures are being considered and implemented to slow the spread of the disease, yet at this point there is no definitive solution.

This is serious.

Bars and restaurants have closed. Most sports have shuttered their areas and stadiums. Golf's Players Championship was cancelled after one round was completed and the Masters has been postponed. Things do not look good for having a PGA Championship in San Francisco in May. (Ed Note, PGA postponed).

Nobody knows what the future will bring. 

Yesterday, in Virginia, it was golf as usual at the Schoolhouse Nine, a challenging short course that is walking only. It was great to be outside and hitting golf balls.  And just like RIckie Fowler battled Justin Thomas in a friendly match in Florida, fun was had on the golf course even in these trying times.  

Around Bucks County, play is a day-by-day proposal.  Northampton Valley and Five Ponds have closed their courses.  Middletown, Bensalem Township, Neshaminy Valley and the Bucks Club as of this date remain open for play - although overnight rains have closed things down somewhat. 

"It's a jumbled time," admitted Bensalem professional Jim Bogan, who has seen a lot in his 50-plus years at the club. "We've been open for play, but our full food and beverage services are closed. We are taking all kinds of precautions, like disinfecting and cleaning carts, keys, you name it. We are aware of the situation."

Middletown has been allowing walking play, and it has been brisk at times. 

Northampton Valley communicated with customers that it will be closed "effective immediately to support public health efforts" and noted it will reopen as they are able.

"It really is a day-to-day review of the situation," added Bogan. "We discuss each day what is going on, and how we should proceed. It's truly and up to the minute set of decisions."

The Bensalem club has aerated much of the course, so that's a fact that has limited play somewhat. Besides, it is not yet golf "season". But the club historically, like Middletown, has a group of year-around players.

Those players are assured that equipment is being wiped down and measures taken to limit interactions between players.

Five Ponds in Warminster is closed until the end of the month, as is the Backyard Bar and Grille. 

Stonewall, a private club, has closed facilities although members can play the course sans carts while McCullough's Emerald Links, a public course, is open down the shore but requiring online and telephone pre-pay as pro shop entry is limited. Cash is not accepted for merchandise. 

Care is taken on the course. For instance, in a weekend round, my group left the flagstick in the hole, fist bumps were discouraged even after that great shot, and elbow bumps or pulling a competitors ball out of the hole for them strongly discouraged.

Cart attendants are not in use at many clubs, so players asked to load their own carts, and in some locations, carts are limited to a single occupant to ensure social distancing. 

A week ago, we played nine rounds in seven days, doing our best to stay away from contact with others (oh, did almost get hit my a young bomber while waiting in the fairway) and just having a swell time otherwise.  We were playing in Las vegas and Mesquite, Nevada, on great courses which were a treat (www.golfmesquite).  Hard to believe days later courses are shutting down. 

People were being smart. 

In these times, as always, it's much better to be smart!