The subject line of the email that the Home Course sent to its customers was simple and direct, highlighting some very welcome news for golfers in the state of Washington.

“Foursomes are back!”

Indeed, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office released new updates to the previous guidelines for reopening golf courses in the state, which went into effect on May 5.

There are five updates to the 25 related guidelines that courses must follow as part of the re-opening plan.

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The initial plan limited playing groups for golfers to two non-related members or groups of more than two with related family members. But now playing groups can consist of four non-related members.

From the release: “Foursomes are permitted as long as the course determines that foursomes will not create congestion on the course. Single players should be asked if they would like to be paired together.”

It’s a major step to allow more golfers onto the course at one time. Oregon, Idaho and Montana have also allowed foursomes of non-household members.

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The graduation to foursomes was something that local golf officials hoped would happen within a week or two of the re-opening, provided the courses followed the early rules.

There was also an update to the use of power carts, allowing members of the same household to share carts. However, there will still be no sharing of power carts for non-related golfers.

“Restrict one rider per power cart, except a) when a minor is also playing or b) when members of the same household will ride together.”

The latest update also clarified rules pertaining to driving ranges — both stand-alone and on courses — and other practice areas.  Ranges are now open for use as long as the guidelines and standards that apply to golf courses, including proper distancing, are followed.

With the expanded opening of practice areas, golf instruction (section 25) is also now allowed as long as proper safety and distancing is maintained.

Courses can now also put trash and recycling receptacles on the course, which were previously not allowed. They must be lid-free so golfers won’t have to touch them.

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The Golf Alliance of Washington, which encompasses Washington Golf, the Pacific Northwest section of the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Western Washington and Inland Empire chapters of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and the Evergreen Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America, had this statement on the Washington Golf website:

“The Alliance would like to thank Governor Inslee and his staff for the open communication and opportunity to share the unique place golf plays in the health and wellness of Washingtonians. The spirit of cooperation and willingness of all to find a safe approach to the operation of golf courses allowed us to reach this accord.

“We encourage operators and golfers to continue to follow the full range of safety features set forth for the operation of golf courses in Washington. By working together to achieve the safety goals we’ll all move into future phases of the recovery plan in a timely manner.”

Inslee also released updated guidelines for golf courses in counties that have been granted Phase 2 status that includes re-opening of golf-course restaurants and taverns, junior golf, tournaments and other aspects.

Golf guidance by Ryan Divish on Scribd