By Mike Taborski
Plumas County golf courses are open and very busy with players taking full advantage of the opportunity to play while adhering and adjusting to the mandated restrictions ordered by the county health department.
Besides course employees sanitizing carts prior to play and removing all the common use items from the course such as ball washers, coolers and seed bottles; players are asked to continue to use good hygiene practices along with social distancing during play and no congratulatory handshaking or fist bumping, one player per cart (excluding players living in the same household), make advanced reservations for tee times and not gather in groups on the course or in the parking lot after their round.
Bob Klein, the head golf professional at Graeagle Meadows, said the course had 90 to 100 players on both Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13, and everything went very smoothly. He said that players were following the guidelines, the pace of play was good and the golfers seemed grateful to be outside and to be able to play golf. The driving range and snack bar are also open with some of the same necessary restrictions in place.
Klein added that Whitehawk Ranch Golf Course, which is also owned by the West family, had a good opening as well. He said they had a great turnout when they opened on Friday and again on Saturday.
Brandon Bowling, head golf pro at Plumas Pines Golf Resort in Blairsden, said the new protocol and easy-to-follow rules that the county provided local courses made a huge difference. “Players showed up with an understanding of what to expect and what to do; things went smoothly and the players have been great,” he said. The 18-hole course also opened to the public on Friday, May 12, and Bowling said both Friday and Saturday were fantastic — both sellouts. The golf shop and snack bar are open with limited capacity following the new expanded Phase 2 guidelines.
May 15 was the opening day for Nakoma Golf Resort at Gold Mountain near Clio. Tracy Metzler, manager of golf operations, said her opening went very smoothly hosting nearly 100 players each day. She said implementing the new requirements was much easier than expected, adding that the players were very understanding and easy to work with using their social distancing curbside check-in. They also offered outside curbside food service and full bar.
The Grizzly Ranch Golf Course opened on May 15 as well. Head Golf Professional Caleb Olsen also had an excellent turnout, he said they had more then 125 golfers “…all with smiles on their faces and happy to be there and be outdoors.” He said the snack bar is open for takeout and the restaurant will be opening soon for patio dining while adhering to the county guidelines.
The only course that is open year round is Mt. Huff in Crescent Mills. Owner Elisa Rutledge said it was COVID-19, not the weather, that forced her to close most of March and all of April and she is thrilled to be reopened. In addition to the nine-hole course, her café is also open for inside and take-out dining. “Of course we and our players are abiding by all the health requirements. (Plumas County District Attorney) Dave Hollister plays here quite often,” she chuckled.
Pro Shop Manager Brandie DeRuiter at the Almanor West Golf Course said they opened May 1 adjusting to the modified format required by the county adding that the number of rounds there have been very good. She said she is amazed at the cooperation her clientele are showing to make this work and remain in compliance. The course’s restaurant, the Almanor West Grill, opens May 20 for both takeout and inside dining.
Ronnie Theobold, head golf professional at Bailey Creek Golf Course at Lake Almanor, said they are experiencing huge turnouts. “We have been slammed on the weekends so be sure to call days in advance if you want to get a tee time,” he said. As with the other courses, no walk-ins are accepted; players need to call first. Even with this many players, he added that the current modified playing requirements of having one player per cart and not removing the pins prior to putting, has made the average round of golf of four to five hours now just four hours for four players adding that there is virtually no waiting time between holes.
The Lake Almanor Country Club Golf Course on the Peninsula opened May 1. Head Pro Bob Haney said their play has been steady and, without exception, the golfers have been fully compliant with the newly mandated country and course requirements. Although the restaurant is opening soon for lunches and dinners, they offer an outside barbecue fare that includes burgers and hot dogs Wednesday through Sunday and the restaurant offers takeout dinners Tuesday through Saturday.