Cedar Ridge to play through pandemic with ‘Park and Play’ program
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — Mark Twain once remarked that golf is a perfect walk ruined.
Still, that doesn’t mean a pandemic should ruin a perfect round of golf.
On Saturday, Cedar Ridge Golf Course officially had its season opener.
“We were hoping for the weather to be a little better,” said Cary Perez, who purchased the city’s lone 18-hole course three years ago.
“We have a couple of guys out today,” Perez said of golfers taking advantage of breaks in the wet and windy weekend. “At least it isn’t snowing.”
Yeah, things could be worse.
Cedar Ridge is braving the COVID-19 situation with a “Park and Play” system that will help keep golfers on the course while the rest of the world struggles to get back into the swing of things.
“It’s a program where you can practice social distancing while still getting in a round of golf,” Perez said.
The Park and Play program was initiated by the National Golf Owners Association in efforts to comply with the preventive practices outlined by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention while still allowing golf as a means for outdoor exercise.
“We have where you can book a tee time online (cedaridgegolfia.com) or by calling the clubhouse (641-228-6465),” Perez said. “Then all you have to do is drive up, park your car, and we’ll have a sanitized cart waiting for you on the course.”
With the exception of mixed drinks, beverages may be ordered to be delivered to the cart or to the first tee. Coolers will be sanitized prior to use.
Other measures and alterations at Cedar Ridge include:
Cups will be raised eliminating the need to remove the flagstick or reach into the cup — a new temporary course rule is as follows: Any shot striking the cup and remaining within a club length of the cup be considered “holed.”
Bunker rakes will be removed; staff will rake bunkers each day. If a ball comes to rest in a disurbed area of a bunker, the player will have the choice to either move their ball to an undisturbed area or treat the bunker as “Ground Under Repair” and take relief without penalty.
The doors to the clubhouse will remain open as much as possible and door handles will be sanitized on a frequent basis.
Ball washers will not be available on the course.
The spacing of the driving range stations will be increased. Range balls will be placed on the range instead of being bagged. There will be an honor system for those purchasing range balls.
Perez says that Cedar Ridge plans to be at full-staff by the middle of April. He is currently benefiting from “volunteer” yet “compulsory” staff with his kids out of school. During the course’s “opening day”, Perez’s family were at work while helping him spruce up the clubhouse and make needed repairs.
“Now, we’re able to do some things that we haven’t had a chance before,” Perez said.
Again, things could be worse.
“They closed down all the courses in Illinois,” Perez said of the mandate issued on March 26. “Just hope that it doesn’t come down to that here.
“We’re in a good pocket in the country. Hopefully, it will stay that way with people doing the right things. We’re not in places where hundreds of hands will touch a single door knob in a day.”
Perez says that even if they can remain open, it’s going to be tough. Cedar Ridge is the home course for the Charles City boys and girls golf teams, which often attract family and supporters for the Comets as well as for their opponents who patronize the clubhouse’s bar and kitchen and pro shop.
The likelihood of there being a high school golf season is waning as social restrictions will continue to be imposed through April.
For the time being, Cedar Ridge is also going to be bereft of its clubhouse regulars — a colorful lot of characters who always have a story or two to tell you, especially if they mistake you as a journalist.
“I think businesses that survive this are going to be in good shape,” Perez said. “It’s just a matter of survival.”