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Rules changes for COVID-19 give golfers required space while getting in 18 holes

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg remains open while instituting some new rules in light of the outbreak.

The sports world has been brought to a standstill.

Stadiums have been shuttered and tournaments have been canceled. Sports enthusiasts are left with limited options as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Golf is one place where players can find a measure of normalcy. Sure, the pro tours have been postponed, but plenty of people are still chasing that tiny white ball around local courses.

"You aren't really shoulder-to-shoulder any time in golf — the etiquette of the game is to give people room," Boring resident Eric Gustafson said last week. "I've played 17 rounds in March — I've posted scores the last 12 days in a row."

In light of Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order, any business staying open must implement social-distancing policies.

Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg remains open, but the course is implementing plenty of changes and restrictions in response to the outbreak.

The golf shop – along with food and beverage services – is closed. Golfers are only allowed to walk the course with no carts available for rent, and tee times can only be booked online at or over the phone. Payment will be taken over the phone and hours of operation are limited from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the first tee time at 9 a.m. every day.

Benches and golf ball washers have been removed from the course, according to CPRD officials, and all other hard surfaces that could be touched by customers will be cleaned thoroughly and sanitized throughout the day.

These changes follow the lead of other courses throughout the state and region.

At Eagle Creek Golf Course near Estacada, the clubhouse is closed. Customers pay their greens fees at a side window, where a dry erase board hangs to inform players of the new social-distancing rules.

"I am someone who is not afraid to say no, but hopefully we don't have to remind too many people," said Alaina Bevens, clubhouse manager at Eagle Creek. "So far, I'm seeing people keep their distance and keeping the rules."

The green is one place where players tend to congregate. Area courses are requiring players to leave flagsticks untouched.

Ball washers have been dismantled and rakes have been taken out of sand traps.

"We want people playing their round without touching anything but their own golf clubs," said Jim Chianello, head pro at Gresham Golf Club. "It's the same as the grocery line, you do your best to provide space — it's easy to stand six feet away and still be able to hear each other talk."

Some courses also have adopted a one-person-per-cart rule, while Eagle Creek has started its process with a walkers-only policy.

For players, social-distancing means making adjustments both on the course and at the 19th hole.

"Typically, you would shake hands on the final green. Now we nod to each other and say 'good game' without touching," one Gresham golfer said. "Our club is very social and I enjoy the time after as much as the time during the round. But we can't do that right now, so we total up our scores and go home.

"It's saved me a lot of money in beer and lottery tickets," he added with a laugh.

During a recent sunny stretch of days, attendants at local courses reported a regular flow of players using their courses.

"The phone is ringing all the time to ask if we are open," Chianello said. "Golf is a sport where you can distance yourself. The idea is to be able to give people something to do outside and to do that safely."

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