It had been very quiet at the Juniata Golf Course since Governor Wolf shut down all non-essential businesses to combat the spread of COVID-19. Having no golfers is not good for business at a golf course in the Spring months.
When the announcement was made last week that courses in the city would reopen on May 1st, Juniata Golf Course General Manager Bob Wheeler said “We were ecstatic!” He said that he didn’t know if the business could have survived if the course was closed for another month.
The phone calls started coming in right after the announcement was made. Wheeler and his crew answered close to 100 calls asking about tee times before they even opened. The great weather and temperatures looked promising for the opening weekend. “Everybody will probably have their shorts out for the first time and probably hitting new clubs for the first time,” he said.
The course has new rules posted. Only one player per cart is allowed. A foursome gets 2 carts so that two people ride and 2 people walk, keeping to the 6-foot distancing rule. Carts are sanitized after each use. That’s just the start of a long list of new rules and restrictions.
Wheeler told the Juniata News that the course is in the best shape that he has seen it in his 35 years here. It’s the one positive thing that has come out of people staying off the course for a couple of months. Golfers agreed and were excited on their first day back.
“It was great,” said Jim Womelsdorf, who just came off the course with Jim Devlin on reopening day. “I put a putting green in my back yard, I had a net in my driveway that I drove in, all waiting for this day!”
Womelsdorf and Devlin enjoyed their first day back on the course, but took the new precautions seriously. “We followed all of the protocol that’s required to get this thing out of our way,” said Womelsdorf. He knows the seriousness of the virus all-too-well. His daughter, who has a 2 year-old daughter at home, caught COVID-19 on the job. She recovered and no one else in her family became sick.
Devlin was also fully on board with taking precautions, saying that as long as you wear masks when necessary, keep your social distance and keep to one in a cart with the other golfer alternately walking, “you’re not getting into that danger zone.”
“It’s a huge responsibility,” said Bryn Marshall, Assistant Manager. “We feel like we’re the first people kind of coming back into this so we have to keep super serious about it. That’s what we’re asking customers — when they come in, really just use the bathroom, pay, and get on your way — get out into the fresh air!”
Tournaments and banquets at the Club are still on hold until the state and city allow them, and for now, food and beverage service will be limited to pre-packaged goods.
Womelsdorf ended their afternoon by taking to the 10th tee with Devlin after their game. “We sit here and watch them tee-off, and have a cigar and a beer, and just relax and enjoy it the best we can!
The Juniata Golf Course is located at 1391 E. Cayuga Street in Juniata Park. You can call them at 215-743-4060.