Local golf courses in full swing


There are a lot of rounds of golf being played these days at Jackson County’s two golf courses, Shadowood and Hickory Hills.

“It seems like golf is one of the few outlets that people can do, so we’ve been busier than ever through all of this on the daily golf traffic," said Ryan Myers, owner of Shadowood Golf Course in Seymour.

“Cancelling outings and stuff like that is going to hurt business, but that’s kind of a wait-and-see type deal. We don’t know if people are going to cancel or not yet," he said.

In the meantime, many individuals are turning out.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down most sports across the country as people were advised to stay home and engage in social distancing as opposed to mingling at various venues.

"With some of the surrounding golf courses being closed, like Hickory Hills was closed for a little bit, Otter Creek in Columbus shut down their carts, some of their members and players came down to play just because they didn’t want to walk," Myers said.

"Otis Park in Bedford also didn’t have carts going, so some people in Bedford came over, and it was just purely because they didn’t want to walk.”

Shadowood never completely closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were open the whole time," Myers said. "During the section that the state said we couldn’t have anybody inside, the pro shop was closed for about a month. We set a computer up at the front door. People could come to the front door if they wanted anything from the pro shop. We had to get it for them."

John Olson, head pro at Hickory Hills Golf Club in Brownstown, said that course reopened April 24.

"We’ve been going gangbusters ever since," he said. "There are a lot of people still not working, they’re getting unemployment, and what else do they have to do besides playing golf? We’ve been very busy from 8 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night almost. The shop has been open 15 hours a day. Everybody wants to play golf. We’re working seven days a week and a lot of hours. We have more members this year than we had last year.”

For the most part, he said people have been very understanding about any changes in procedures.

"They’re just happy being out here playing golf, being away from everything," Myers said.

Olson said he and the Hickory Hills board of directors closed the course the last week of March. That lasted about four weeks.

“They closed the clubhouse. The golf course was open for exercise. We know there were people playing golf," he said. "The governor did not shut the state down for golfers. That was more done by the local clubs or the mayors or the county councilmen or commissioners or whatever."

Olson was still present on the grounds, though not in a traditional role.

“The only thing I did for four weeks was cut grass," he said. "I tried to get here early because the club house was closed. If I was here between 1 and 4 (p.m.) when it was nice out, people wanted to use the bathroom or wanted a water or something. I said, ‘No, you can’t.’

Olson, at Hickory Hills since 1982, said when the pro shop was reopened, golfers entered through one door and exited through another door and were not allowed to congregate inside.

“I had to lay off the help, and that was something that was new for everybody,” he said. “The board of directors did get together and they knew they had to reopen. It was a unanimous decision by the board. “

Guidelines put out by the state for Indiana golf courses recommended with Stage 2 (beginning May 4) under cart operations noted “single carts are recommended. At their discretion, golfers may elect to ride together in golf carts or may choose to ride alone. If there are two riders, the driver and passenger should not change places during the round. Golf carts to be properly sanitized after each use.”

Staff members at the local courses are sanitizing carts after each time the golf car is used. There is hand sanitizer near the entrance to both pro shops.

Olson said if four men travel in one car to Hickory Hills for a round of golf, he doesn’t see why two of them couldn’t share a cart.

At Shadowood, a clear plastic divider has been installed on all carts to keep the golfers separated.

Also, both courses have E-Z ball lifts, where a golfer pulls on a lever and the golf ball pops out of the cup.

The men’s league at Hickory Hills has been on Tuesday nights, but because of social distancing and with more than 80 men expressing interest in playing, the league was expanded to Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The women’s league at Hickory Hills is still Thursday nights.

Myers said men’s leagues are held at Shadowood Monday through Thursday. He said the Thursday league is at an all-time high in numbers.

Ken Mousa, a Hickory Hills member, said he is in his third year of playing golf and is a new member at the Brownstown course.

"I enjoy the challenge of it all and just being outside," he said. "It’s a game you can’t master. I’m starting to get decent on my drives. Normally, I’m pretty good on the greens. Every day is a new day.”

Mousa, Russ Sutton, Don Bradley and Bill Daggy have been playing weekly at Hickory Hills since early March, before COVID-19. They continued to walk the course and play golf when the pro shop was closed.

“I never thought about playing golf, and these guys got me started,” Mousa said. “I’ve played a lot of courses in the past couple years. Every day on a golf course is a good day. I play three times a week, and usually one day each week, we go out of town."

Shadowood is about as busy as can be.

“Our Monday league is sold out," Myers said. "Our leagues on Tuesday and Wednesday, Shadowood is not associated with them, they’re private businesses that do it, and all of their numbers are very strong, as well," he said.

“Our junior program (First Tee) is good. I think they have a dozen or so kids signed up for that. We’re also going to be doing some junior camps through Shadowood throughout the summer.”

There will be a Mountain Dew junior event at Shadowood Wednesday.

Both Myers and Olson said they have had to change the schedule for tournaments and special events at their courses, rescheduling for later in the summer or fall.

Olson said many of the charity events have been canceled or postponed for various reasons, including getting sponsors.

“It’s hard to ask a business for money when they’ve been shut,” he said.

D.J. Antle, a member at Shadowood, said nothing really changed for him while playing a round of golf.

"With the precautions, it made it simple. It was business as usual," he said. "Early on, we were doing solo carts, and then we got the dividers with two people. I’ve been coming out here since January since it was a mild winter. I play in Monday and Tuesday leagues. I was a member of the country club for about 10 years. I like it out here. It’s nice and open, challenging but fair.”

Jim Hoffman played in the Thursday night league at Shadowood.

“With everything shut off, I think it has been busier. There are some different things going on with the dividers and you’ve got to leave the pin in and things like that," he said.

“As far as the play, I think it has been more crowded this year than in the past, and that’s without having the school teams out here," he said. "Usually, we have four school teams out here (in the spring). I’ve seen a lot of the kids out here playing. Missing the season has been a sore spot for the kids.”

Hoffman is the boys and girls golf head coach at Seymour High School.

“The seniors missed out on their senior year. Some of them were working on four-year awards, and they’ll miss out on that," he said.

The course has been busy, Hoffman said.

"It is something people can social distance themselves. You don’t come in contact with somebody," he said. "We went over and played a different course, and they didn’t have dividers. Some people like the dividers, and some don’t.

"It has been good for Ryan and the golf economy," he said of the course remaining open. "That’s all there was to do for a while.”

No posts to display