Tuesday, October 26, 2021

How 3 local golf courses are proceeding

By Sandra Hutchinson, Chronicle Chief Operating Officer

New York State’s Empire Development Corporation on Saturday re-authorized golf courses to open, with limitations.

Here’s what three local courses told us.

Glens Falls Country Club

Tom Haggerty, the golf pro at Glens Falls Country Club, says the course is open for play, walking only, to members.

He notes that as the only local private golf club, it has a financial advantage, since their members pay dues. “I feel bad for the public and privately owned courses, since they rely on people to pay.”

The Country Club’s driving range, pro shop, practice facility and putting greens are all closed.

He says golfers can bring their own pull carts if they are individually used.

Mr. Haggerty points out that most golf courses rely on “cart income,” and that it represents a loss of revenue for his club as well. He also cites the “snowball effect” of lost revenue, noting that golfers tend to patronize the restaurant after they play.

Mr. Haggerty said that the clubhouse is closed, but they are offering curbside dinner pickup for members from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday.

The State has strictly limited staffing and roles at golf facilities. Mr. Haggerty says he is “the security guy.” He makes sure no groups are gathering, and he “directs traffic,” such as ensuring the start times are appropriately spaced.

In terms of the grounds work, he says that luckily, that was never put on hold. He says the governor seemed to understand that if you don’t maintain the courses, it is very hard to rebound.

Mr. Haggerty says the course is in beautiful shape now, crediting Chris Frielinghaus, the course superindentent.

This is Mr. Haggerty’s 48th year at the club; he’s been the head pro since 1980, and was assistant pro for the eight years prior.

“Golf is great therapy, both physically and mental,” he said. “We all need therapy now.”

Queensbury Country Club

At Queensbury Country Club, which is owned and operated by Debbie and Scot Smith, they are taking it on a “day by day basis,” says Mrs. Smith. “It’s kind of tough but we’re managing.

“We can’t let anyone in the clubhouse, and there are no restrooms on the course.”

It is walking only, and pull carts cannot be used since that would involve sharing equipment. All tee times must be reserved ahead and paid for over the phone.

Mrs. Smith says the “guidelines are vague and hard to understand, so we are being cautious.” She says their understanding is that basic maintenance by a small grounds crew is allowed.

The rules are “ever changing,” she says. “We are doing the best we can.”

Airway Meadows

Airway Meadows in Gansevoort opened Saturday, said Joan Heber, who operates the club with her husband James.

Golfers must call ahead to reserve a tee time, and pay ahead with a credit card. No golf carts are being used, and golfers may not enter the clubhouse.

Mrs. Heber says that after they play, the golfers need to get in their cars, go home, and “then call your buddy and tell him or her what a great round you had.”

She says the rules are “all about social distancing, and we totally respect that, but people need to get out of their houses and breathe.”

Mrs. Heber says they belong to the Capital Region Golf Course Owners Association, which is working with their representatives in the state legislature to win permission to use golf carts, although they will be limited to one person per cart.

As a private operator, Mrs. Herber says she can be on site working, and she is also permitted to have a security employee, whose role it is to remind everyone to stay at least six feet away from other golfers, and to also make sure golfers do not congregate in the parking lot after play.

While the golf course is considered non-essential under the New York State guidelines, Mrs. Heber says the grounds crew — managed by her husband — is essential under the landscaping category.

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