Middlefield reopens after five-week closure

Middlefield Golf Course reopened last Friday and local golfers took advantage of the sunny weather on Monday as the parking lot — both for cars and carts — was packed with visitors eager to get back to hitting the links. PHOTO BY NICK SNYDER/CG SENTINEL

It may be a long and winding road back to normal, but as of last week at least one local institution is one step closer to getting there.

Middlefield Golf Course, owned and operated by the City of Cottage Grove since 2006, reopened last Friday, May 1 giving golfers a chance to get back to the outdoors just in time for warmer, sunnier weather.

The course had been closed since March 23 when Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12 which designated essential businesses that were allowed to remain open — hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. — while closing a wide variety of other outfits such as gyms, dine-in restaurants and bars, hair salons, movie theaters and golf courses.

After over five weeks of closure, the reopening is a welcome sign for a nation and local community that has seen the normal course of day-to-day life upended in the face of a global viral pandemic. Nonetheless, the City of Cottage Grove is taking the necessary precautions to ensure that Middlefield’s reopening was not done preemptively and will remain open for the foreseeable future.

“We have done some modifications at the course and have new signage,” said city finance director Roberta Likens. “Number one being that there’s now a shield behind the counter and our employees … and our employees are wearing masks. We have closed all other areas of the pro shop, we are only renting single-use carts and then we have markings on the ground to enforce social distancing.”

For would-be golfers, Middlefield has provided a list of tips to keep all visitors safe and healthy when visiting the course, but Likens also stresses that much of it will depend on the golfers themselves adhering to the guidelines.

“Staff is monitoring, but we can’t be everywhere all the time, so we do have to rely on the golfers to comply with our guidelines.”

Amongst a number of recommendations, golfers are encouraged to: reserve tee times by phone; carry antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer for frequent use before, during and after play; handle their own golf bag at all times; not share clubs with other players; not shake hands with playing partners after a round; not linger at the facility after the round is finished; and adhere to safe social distancing guidelines while at the course.

The situation regarding COVID-19, both nationally and locally, remains fluid, so the continued operation of Middlefield will depend on adherence to these guidelines, but several days after reopening, things seem to be going well.

“We are going day by day making sure that people can maintain compliance with new guidelines,” Likens said. “But, the golfers seem to acknowledge that and have been very receptive to keeping social distancing and understanding that we’ve had to make changes. We’re glad they’re back.”

While precautions have been put in place for visitors, there are also a number of changes to the course itself to ensure safe usage of the facility:

• Rakes and ball washers are removed.

• Flag sticks should remain in the hole when putting or chipping.

• Holes are modified so golfers do not need to reach in to pick up his/her ball. The hole is raised.

• A ball is holed when it touches or strikes any part of the cup during a stroke.

• Bunkers are considered “ground under repair,” resulting in a free lift.

A full list of changes and safety precautions can be found at the front desk in the Middlefield clubhouse.

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