Joe Doucette, left, and Josh Small walk a path at Nonesuch River Golf Club on March 21 after teeing off. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Next up on the tee, May 1.  

On Tuesday, Governor Janet Mills announced golf courses, along with disc golf courses, will be permitted to open on Friday with restrictions in place as part of her four-stage plan “Stay Safer at Home” Executive Order, which begins on May 1.  

“With this plan we are beginning to invent a new normal and a different way of doing things, of doing business, of shopping, of traveling and enjoying the Maine outdoors in ways to keep us safe,” Mills said in her press conference on Tuesday.  

The golf community in the tri-county area believes golfing is one way to enjoy the outdoors and can get people moving again after being stuck indoors.  

“I think it’s a great transition back from virus lockdown to healthy activity,” The Meadows owner Randall Anderson said. “We totally support and agree with the governor that this is one of many steps to get healthier.”  

Ruby Haylock, a sophomore at Leavitt and member of the golf team, reached out to her state senator, Jeff Timberlake of District 22, on how golf can be a good way for exercise.  

“I explained to him how it’s hard for people to sit inside and not able to get fresh air and go do something,” Haylock said. “It’s not very healthy, especially for teenagers like myself who are still growing, we need to be outside and active at least an hour a day. Right now, it’s not happening … and when I go the golf course it makes me happy, it’s a comfort place for me. I feel like even if I am stressed out I can go to the golf course and play some golf and feel happier.”  

The Maine State Golf Association was pleased that the sport is a part of Mills’ phase-one plan after getting “slapped on the hand” at the beginning of April.  

“Today was exciting because golf was a part of phase one and we have worked hard to prove that we think golf can be played safely and a good recreational sport,” MSGA executive director Brian Bickford said. “The governor and (Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development Heather) Johnson has afforded us that opportunity to prove we can do it safely. I am pretty satisfied, now the trick will be reminding everybody it’s not quite business as usual.”  

Ruby’s father Harry, the Leavitt golf coach, feels like opening golf courses up shouldn’t have taken this long to begin with.  

“We have had a good spring to play golf and we got shutdown, personally I don’t think it was the right call,” Harry Haylock said. “Many would disagree and say it’s about safety. Here we have been taking walks and hikes on the weekends, but it’s not really different than walking on the course.”  

The Haylocks have been passing the time by practicing in their backyard, as they have three pins and a couple of nets to aim at to work on their game before getting to their home course of Turner Highlands this weekend.  

Meanwhile Lonney Steeves, a member at Springbrook in Leeds, doesn’t like early spring golf to begin with the usual wet conditions that comes with April golf, but he’s also coming off of foot surgery that caused him to miss all of last season.  

He last hit a golf ball in October of 2018.  

“I am looking to get out and play. I am sure there’s going to be some restrictions and guidelines that we are going to abide by, but it’s nice to be able to go out and play,” Steeves said.  

Players have been left wondering if they would receive some good news. 

Steeves understood it was fluid situation.  

“I think I got two Facebook messages from (Springbrook) and that’s pretty much it,” Steeves said. “I think they have been holding out, wanting to make sure they didn’t get all excited when we were able to go play. They are normally pretty good and I am sure within the next day or so we will hear something from them. I would not at all be surprised to see an email in my inbox tomorrow. 

Courses didn’t find out officially until Tuesday like everyone else. 

“Not officially until today, but we have been working with the MSGA and Brian (Bickford) to provide suggestions and protocols that we thought were reasonable for safety and still get a chance to play,” Anderson said. “Then yesterday when (Mills) announced she was going to talk about some of the things that might open up (in today’s press conference) that’s when we were pretty eager to hear what she had to say.” 

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