We're Open: Social distancing impacting golf courses, parks, MO state parks

swope memorial golf course.jpeg
Posted at 6:04 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 13:04:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At 5 p.m. Thursday, April 2, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will close five state parks, including Watkins Woolen Mill and Weston Bend in the Kansas City area.

In a news release, the department said the reason to close the parks is to address overcrowding.

Nationwide stay at home guidelines to limit the spread of COVID19 prohibit groups of ten or more from meeting and suggest you stay six feet away from anyone else.

“If a park looks full, then it is. Whether you’re inside or outside, you must follow the guidelines,” said Mike Sutherland, director of DNR’s Division of State Parks in the release.

Many city parks remain open, but playgrounds are closed.

“I’ll be the person to get out of the way, move out of the way. I’m not trying to get any sickness or get anyone else sick. I just want to come out and get some fresh air, that’s it,” said Ryan Mally while visiting English Landing Park in Parkville, Missouri.

But while the state closes some parks, cities and counties are opening golf courses with modifications.

Kansas City, Missouri; Overland Park, Kansas; Johnson County, Kansas; and Belton, Missouri, opened some of their public golf courses this week.

With advice from health departments, the municipalities are implementing “touchless golf.”

Golfers must pay online ahead of time, they are only allowed in the clubhouse to use the restroom and the pro shops are closed. Only one person can ride in a cart (and some courses aren’t using carts at all).

Golfers aren’t allowed to touch flagsticks, ball washers or rakes in sand traps. Plus, the holes are filled with plastic or foam. So long as a golfer’s ball touches the cup, it counts as having gone in. That way, golfers don’t have to reach into the same cup every other golfer has touched to retrieve their ball.

"You gotta be careful, you gotta be conscious of it. You gotta know not to touch certain things. The golf courses have been pretty good in figuring out how to make this work,” Steve Hirschorn explained while golfing at Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City.

Jackson County’s Fred Arbanas Golf Course remains closed, as does Leawood’s Ironhorse.

The director of Johnson County’s golf courses said the reason to open courses was not financially motivated; it was about giving people another recreational outlet.

Bill Maasen pointed out Monday there were 46 golfers at Tomohawk Hills Golf Course in the span of about eight hours. WIth 200 acres on the course, he pointed out golfers can remain socially distant. The course sees aboutt 120 golfers on a typical spring day.

"I think it's very smart. Less people touching the flags, less people touching the carts minimizes the spread of the disease so I think it's smart,” Michael DiGregorio, a golfer at Swope Memorial, said.

Trails are open in Johnson County and Kansas City, Missouri, parks.

Wednesday, KCMO closed its off-leash dog parks.

Johnson County, KS
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