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Area golfers were happy to be back on local courses despite limitations due to the shutdown

By George Edgar, For West Sound SportsPlus

Mike Zetty of Tracyton had been waiting for this day since March.

It was then when Governor Jay Inslee ordered a lockdown of all non-essential businesses, which included golf courses, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Courses reopened Tuesday after a six-week shutdown. The governor ordered golf courses in the state to be shut down on March 27. 

Zetty and the rest of the golfers in the state returned to the links as part of a phased plan to get the state back to some sense of normalcy in light of health concerns.

Zetty, a small news publisher whose business is on hold for now, arrived at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton around noon to tee off. The sun came out in the afternoon, shining down on a day that was a long-time coming for golfers around the Kitsap County area, as well as the rest of the state.

“It’s awesome, like it was opening day,” said Zetty, who had also played at Alderbrook and Kitsap GC before. “It’s like Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to wake up to go out there.”

Ellie Wolfe of Gold Mountain, left, helps check in Mike Zetty of Tracyton for a round of golf Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Courses opened around the state after a six-week shutdown due to the state’s lockdown order due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(George Edgar/For West Sound SportsPlus)

Golfers and staff at Gold Mountain felt the same.

“We’re excited to get back,” said Daryl Matheny, general manager of Gold Mountain Golf Course. “Everyone is ready to get back out and enjoy golf for the season.”

In the interim, the maintenance crew at Gold Mountain kept the courses in playable shape in anticipation of the earliest possible opening date.

“We had made the decision to keep working the entire time,” said John Sitton, golf operations manager at Gold Mountain. “We did all the maintenance we could do in a six-week window. We aerated and manicured the greens, maintained the place. We made it playable for summer conditions.”

Also in anticipation, Gold Mountain allowed for members and others to make online reservations for Tuesday’s opening. When the governor’s office gave the okay to open, reservations were already filled to capacity. But only twosomes will be allowed to play at a time, requiring some reworking of some reservations.

“It’s definitely a lower number,” said Matheny, “two players at a time. It cuts capacity in half. We anticipated 140 per course. It’s normally 250 to 300 per course.”

Arriving at Gold Mountain, golfers checked in at two tents outside near the pro shop and were able to pick up their carts to go to their course.

Both the Olympic and Cascade courses at Gold Mountain are booked full into this weekend.

“Every tee time will be booked from now until Mother’s Day,” said Zetty.

Golfers take to the driving range at Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Courses opened around the state after a six-week shutdown due to the state’s lockdown order due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(George Edgar/For West Sound SportsPlus)

There was also activity at the driving range, where Central Kitsap High School student Stephanie Kler was swinging away. The junior was supposed to play for the Cougars golf team until her coach told the team that the season was cancelled.

“I just needed to play again,” Kler said. “No high school season, that was a big bummer.”

Golfers were also out at Kitsap Golf and Country Club, though not as much as anticipated.

“Tuesday is always a slow day,” said Al Patterson, Kitsap GC’s golf pro. “(Wednesday), Thursday, Friday, we’ll be booked.”

Over at the public course at Rolling Hills in Bremerton, they opened at 85 percent of capacity, and found the pace of play to be going well.

“After being closed for 41 days,” said manager Tedd Hudanic, “this is magnificent. All in all, it’s great to have the players back.”

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