When Gov. Larry Hogan (R) officially began lifting a number of restrictions on businesses and their customers last week, golf courses, parks and various race tracks throughout the area opened amid modest concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hawthorne Country Club in La Plata opened its golf course for members only last week, while the swimming pool remains closed for the time being with no genuine time from set for its re-opening. But the nine-hole golf course has opened with only modest restrictions and limitations as golfers venture to the tees, fairways and greens for the first time in two months.
“Once they allowed us to re-open last week, there was a lot of excitement here,” said Hawthorne golf shop manager Bill Milstead, affectionately known as “Wild Bill” in the clubhouse. “We’ve had a number of people play every day. We have about 150 members, and we don’t have reserved tee times. Our members can just show up and play.”
Milstead noted that are several minor restrictions on golfers. While groups of four are still permitted, each golfer must have his/her own cart. There are no more rakes in the bunkers and the pins are permanently in place and the holes are covered, so golfers no longer need to remove the pins or reach into the cup to remove the ball.
The Chesapeake Hills Golf Course in Lusby also opened on May 7 amid similar guidelines and restrictions. The course is open for play from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, Mellomar Golf Park in Owings, which has two nine-hole courses, also reopened for public play with no tee times needed and is also open to 6 p.m.
Wicomico Shores Golf Course in Mechanicsville, which is owned and operated by the St. Mary’s County Government, reopened for play on May 9 and is open Tuesdays through Sundays until 7 p.m. each day. Golfers can begin play at 8 a.m. with one person per cart. Since the concession stand and Riverview Restaurant are currently closed until further notice, golfers can bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Breton Bay Golf and Country Club in Leonardtown, now in its 50th year of operation, reopened for play on May 8, with some modest modifications. Golfers can play from 8 a.m. to dusk during the week and 7:30 a.m. to dusk on weekends, with 6 p.m. being the latest starting point for any round. Ball cleaners are covered now at each hole and there are no rakes in the bunkers.
Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville opened its doors last Wednesday and already owner Jonathan Beasley has seen an immediate impact on his business. Although participation is limited to 10 people per session, Beasley has already seen the demand exceed his expectations with a full book through the Memorial Day weekend.
“We have divided the days into two sessions,” Beasley said. “We have a morning session from 8 a.m. to noon and another from 1 to 5 p.m., but people can buy an all-day pass. Right now we can only have 10 people per session. But I’ve already filled all my spots through Memorial Day weekend. I’m not taking any more than that. I want to keep my name in the sports page of the paper.”
Potomac Speedway, also in Mechanicsville,was scheduled to re-open on Saturday afternoon for practices with limited spectators, but the track was informed by the state that it could not offer those events.
Several disclaimers on the track’s website, potomacspeedway.com, offered an explanation to the present situation and potential remedy moving forward and then verified by track spokesperson Denise Hollidge on Saturday.
“We regret to inform everyone that we are forced to cancel this weekend’s practices,” the disclaimer opens. “Our information packet has been going through the process of approval and a full decision will not be made until Monday [May 18]. Matt Morgan, our state delegate for our area, and Mark Morris with the St. Mary’s County health department, have fought hard for us this far and we are not giving up.”
As of Monday afternoon, Hollidge was still awaiting official word on her plans to reopen for practice runs this weekend. She has outlined a formal, written plan to enforce social distancing constraints among participants and spectators and now is waiting to hear from Morgan in regards to whether or not Hogan has approved her request moving forward.
“We’re still waiting to hear,” Hollidge said on Monday afternoon. “We put in our request with state senator Morgan and he’s been going to bat for us. I appreciate the hard work he’s done on our behalf. We’ve postponed some events scheduled for next month, but we’re planning to add them back to the schedule later in the summer so they haven’t been canceled.”