Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday afternoon that NM golf courses may reopen as early as Friday.
Courses will be part of the first wave of outdoor activities allowed to resume, along with parks and trails. The Sun Country Section PGA, Sun Country Amateur Golf Association and Rio Grande Superintendents Association have been lobbying for the reopening.
Dana Lehner, executive director of the Sun Country Section PGA, confirmed the lifting of the governor’s closure order means NM golf courses may reopen.
Changes in golf operations will include maintain social distancing, and likely include online payments, closures of restaurants and grills except for takeout, no rakes in bunkers and foam inserted in cups to allow players to retrieve their balls without having to touch the flagstick.
Derek Gutierrez, general manager of Santa Ana and Twin Warriors golf clubs, in an interview earlier this week, predicted that social distancing requirements will likely end the practice of golfers heading to the golf course without a tee time in the hopes of “walking on.”
“The social distancing likely to come with a reopening would likely preclude groups of golfers congregating around the clubhouse waiting to get on,” Gutierrez said.
Steve Virgen of the Albuquerque Journal tweeted that Albuquerque municipal courses were expected to open Saturday and will be taking tee times starting Friday morning.
Dan Boyd, state capitol reporter for the Journal, reported that Lujan Grisham expects that the state’s bars and restaurants could begin to reopen on May 15. At a news conference, she also said liquor stores will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup only.
Indoor malls, gyms, theaters, casinos and dine-in restaurants among businesses that will remain closed, Boyd tweeted.
Frustration with the closure of golf courses in New Mexico in early March was brought to a head Monday when Grants Martin “Modey” Hicks, on Monday defied the governor’s order to remain on lockdown. He opened up the Grants City Hall and the city’s golf course. Four other businesses followed suit. But New Mexico State Police quickly showed up and with the threat of a $5,000 fine shut everything down.
“I am going to come back and golf today for sure and haven’t golfed in years,” Hicks told reporters before State Police shut down the idea.
About 20 people were on the course at the time, including Grants City Councilor Rick Lucero, who told KOAT he had just finished 18 holes.
“We are out here in the middle of nowhere,” Lucero said. “I think it is safer to be out here rather than Walmart.”