May 1 was a nearly perfect day for golf — sunny and warm. It might have been a very frustrating day for local golfers had it not been the first day that a temporary ban on playing was lifted.
Golfers hit the links at all five courses in Homewood and Flossmoor.
The ban was part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's original stay-at-home executive order designed to combat the spread of COVID-19 that went into effect March 21. The order required people to shelter in place and banned activities deemed non-essential, including golf.
The governor's revised executive order that went into effect Friday allowed golf to resume with some restrictions intended to encourage social distancing measures that slow the spread of the virus.
Among the new rules, golfers can only play in twosomes, tee times are set 15 minutes apart and have to be booked in advance online or by phone, and courses are not allowed to rent carts except to individuals with a physical disability.
Golfers are not supposed to use practice ranges, chipping greens or putting greens in order to limit large gatherings. They can carry their own clubs or use their own pull carts but are not allowed to have caddies accompany them.
Guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity even specify that golfers should not pull the pin before putting and that courses should put spacers in the cups so golfers don't have to reach to the bottom with their hands to retrieve balls.
And "no handshakes at the beginning of the round or at the 18th hole."
Johanna Morawski, director of marketing at Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, said the staff was being careful to follow the restrictions precisely. The club converted its Halfway House to a check-in point, installing an additional window with plastic window so golfers could safely interact with staff without entering the building, she said.
The course typically can accommodate 200 golfers in a day, but with the tee-time and group restrictions, she said about 72 would get to play on Friday. The available slots were all booked, she said.
Three Flossmoor courses — Coyote Run Golf Course, Flossmoor Golf Club and Idlewild Country Club — and Calumet Country Club in Homewood all attracted golfers, though the numbers were not as high as usual considering the restrictions.
Dave Ward, golf superintendent at Coyote Run, said the course "is in pretty good condition," especially considering he and a staff of two, Phil Knight and Mike Lavin, had to do the work normally done by a staff of eight full-time and three or four part-time workers in recent weeks.
"The grass is not yet growing full speed so it will be interesting to see if we can keep up and maintain decent conditions once that happens," he said in an email to the Chronicle. "We have also postponed or eliminated all fertilizer applications to keep the grass growth as slow as possible."