Sun Country Golf Industry Makes Case for Re-opening 0

Health Order shuts down NM golf industry second time

Amateur Golfers Called to Action

Three major Sun Country golf industry groups have called on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to consider allowing the state’s golf courses to reopen in the first wave of business re-openings if the current statewide COVID-19 lockdown order is eased after May 15.

The leadership of the Sun Country PGA Section, the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association and the Rio Grande Superintendents Association have lobbied the administration to allow golf courses to be included in any order that reopens the state’s parks and trails.

They suggested that golf is safe if golfers walk or if carts are capped at a single rider and person-to-person contact is avoided.

One wag suggested that for most golfers, including himself, golf does indeed qualify as social distancing.

“Even though I spend four hours with three other golfers, most of the time is a solitary search in the weeds,” he wrote.

‘Let Us Back on the Course’

The Sun Country industry groups called on New Mexico and El Paso golfers to join in calling for courses to be among the first businesses to reopen when restrictions are eased. El Paso’s lockdown is currently set to expire on May 17.

“Our leadership believes that golf courses can be open safely,” the Sun Country industry groups told golfers in a joint letter.

“At a minimum, golf needs to be among the industries that are opened up as soon as the first relaxations on the closed economy begin.  We have been working for the past month to make sure golf is positioned in that manner in New Mexico and El Paso.”

The groups suggested that golfers reach out to the New Mexico governor and [El Paso Mayor Dee Margo] via phone … in a polite and respectful manner” to relay the following message:

  • “I believe golf is a unique sport that can properly use safe social distancing best practices to provide citizens a responsible recreational option much like parks, hiking trails, tennis courts, etc.
  • “Thirty-eight states around the country and all the surrounding states have agreed and welcomed golf and see it as a safer recreational option for their citizens
  • “The CDC supports and encourages exercise for both physical and mental health – golf is my chosen outlet for both.
  • “Golf is good for our health, our environment and the economy of New Mexico and West Texas.”

The letter has met with mixed reactions. Some golfers said they have picked up the phone. Others have vented to their pals to protest what they call government overreach.

“It is all ’bout big government, power and control. The left will do anything to maintain power and support their agenda,” one Santa Ana Golf Club golfer wrote to his playing partners.

That led to this rebuke: “How about keeping your politics to yourself. This is not a left or right issue it’s a public safety issue. Blaming democrats or the governor for this situation is a bunch of crap and frankly I’m tired of hearing it.”

If and when golf returns, it looks like some things will likely still be off limts at the golf course.

Dan Vukelich, editor of New Mexico Golf News, is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America. Reach him at

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Dan Vukelich, former editor of ABQ Free Press and Sun Country Golf magazine, is editor of He's a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America. Reach him at

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