Health Department allows golf; Memphis does not

By , Daily Memphian Updated: April 01, 2020 4:00 AM CT | Published: April 01, 2020 4:00 AM CT

The Health Department confirmed Tuesday, March 31, that it’s OK for golf courses to operate if they strictly follow a set of social-distancing guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Still, the department’s decision does not dictate the actions of individual municipalities in Shelby County.

Is golf allowed? The answer in Shelby County is ‘maybe’

The City of Memphis closed its eight golf courses on Thursday, March 19, and plans to keep them closed for the time being.

At least three courses outside Memphis reopened in recent days: the semi-private Mirimichi in unincorporated north Shelby County, and the private Ridgeway Country Club and Memphis National in Collierville.

Mickey Barker, administrator of golf for the City of Memphis, said Tuesday, “We’re going to stay closed for the time being.” In fact, he said, the city is imposing more restrictions on public spaces and closing more facilities in an effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

“We couldn’t get people to quit congregating around the clubhouses and things like that,” Barker said. “Going by (Mayor Jim Strickland’s) guidelines, we thought it better to stay closed.”

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The Health Department has permitted several golf courses in unincorporated Shelby County to continue to allow play as long as management follows and encourages strict social-distancing guidelines, Joan Carr, public information officer for the Health Department, told The Daily Memphian Tuesday.

Those strict guidelines include: 

  • Providing clear professional signage to inform guests of operational changes and encourage recommended sanitation practices;
  • Restricting the sale of to-go food and beverages from the clubhouse;
  • Postponing or rescheduling social activities;
  • Increasing the time between tee times;
  • Limiting group activity size in accordance with state and local guidance;
  • Mandating one person per riding cart;
  • Encouraging walking;
  • Modifying the driving range to ensure a minimum 6-foot separation between players;
  • Ensuring restrooms are more frequently cleaned and sanitized;
  • Ensuring golf carts and other rental equipment are properly sanitized before issuing them to customers;
  • And ensuring approved antimicrobial products are used for all sanitation procedures.

Collierville officials have said they would allow Ridgeway Country Club and Memphis National to remain open only if the Health Department recommended doing so with the restrictions. 

In addition to closing its public golf courses, the City of Memphis had included golf courses in general on its “nonessential” list of businesses that were ordered to close.

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golf COVID-19 Shelby County Health Department city of Memphis Mirimichi
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey covers business news for The Daily Memphian. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He's worked in journalism for 40 years and has lived in Midtown for 36 years.

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