BELLEVUE — It seemed as though the golf gods and the weather gods had a very productive Zoom meeting. After being shut down for nearly two months because of the coronavirus pandemic, courses in Washington state reopened Tuesday to a picturesque day.
Folks were teeming with joy at Bellevue Golf Course, which booked out within minutes of Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement last week that it was OK to play golf.
“It was like I was getting Taylor Swift tickets,” said Tony Miller, who had to cancel two golf vacations between the start of the shutdown and Tuesday. “The minute the governor said we could play on the 5th, it was like getting Seahawks playoff tickets.”
Tony and his wife Stacey were among the dozens of twosomes at BGC finally allowed to get their fix. Jane Meadows and her husband Greg were, too.
Jane hadn’t left the house since March 11 but decided to re-enter the world via the links Tuesday.
“There are exciting possibilities if people follow the rules,” Greg said.
And it looked like people were. Course starter John Sheridan said there hadn’t been a problem all day. Golfers know that anything but complete responsibility may jeopardize them being able to play in the future.
John’s job Tuesday was to instruct the players on how to proceed, although he had a sign on the first hole to assist. It said:
COVID-19 LOCAL RULES
- Cups have been adjusted for players’ safety (they have foam stuffed in them so golfers don’t have to reach deep into the hole for the ball)
- Leave flagstick in the cup at all times
- Do not touch other players’ equipment or course accessories
- Practice social distancing
Groups were allowed to tee off only two at a time. If there was a third player among friends, he or she would have to play alone. Akshay Sarin, who was playing with two buddies, joked that the single would probably end up with the lowest score with nobody to monitor him. And though this may seem restrictive, it was actually a blessing to anybody who was fortunate to get on the track.
For one, the course was playing in under three and a half hours. Most weekend warriors know that if they can play in under five hours, it’s a good day. Second, nobody had to worry about a third player running down to the first tee to join them at the last minute. This is generally a big fear of Stacey Miller, who gets nervous playing in front of strangers. Wasn’t a problem Tuesday.
These conditions made it easier for a lot of golfers to deal with the high scores you might expect after not hitting a ball for two months.
“To be honest, I didn’t play well today, but this was one of the better days of golf I’ve ever played,” said Ryan Anderson.
Added his friend, Zach Foster: “The expectations were low, but it’s nice to be out here in the sun and good weather and get a little semblance of normal life.”
Stuart Anderson, who’s not related to Ryan, felt the same way. Sober for 23 years, he considers golf his “shot and a beer.”
“It’s nice to be able to get out and unwind instead of sitting home and watching the 2012 U.S. Open or something,” Anderson said.
Not everyone wanted to have their name used Tuesday, as not everyone was supposed to be there. I talked to one guy coming off the 18th green who was supposed to be at work. He said his boss is a golfer, so he gave him some slack.
What’s the problem then, I asked him.
“My boss knows I’m out here,” he said. “But my team does not.”