Saturday, April 11

The Villages in Central Florida: Where Golf Is an 'Essential Activity'

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THE VILLAGES  "RENOWNED AS AN ACTIVE-LIFESTYLE COMMUNITY," wrote Steve Trivett for MORNING READ  has shut down social activites due to the coronavirus.

The music has stopped in more ways than one.

There's no swimming, no tennis, no pickleball, no bowling, no softball. The 93 recreation centers are more or less idle, deserted.

Yet one activity remains. Trivett reported:
Because of the widening coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a "stay at home" order effective April 3. After the North Florida Section of the PGA of America sought a clarification of the order, golf was considered to be an "essential activity," and courses were allowed to remain open, provided that federal social-distancing guidelines are followed.
Thus, this golf-obsessed community remains open for play, and that seems to be fine with just about everybody.
The Villages features 12 championship courses, 41 nine-hole executive courses, an 18-hole walking-only pitch-and-putt course and an 18-hole walking-only grass putting course. All remain open for Villages residents, an estimated one-third of whom are regular golfers, even though many golf courses elsewhere in Florida and nationwide have closed because of local or state edicts or by self-regulation.
"We are still operating," said Gordy Carlson, the head professional at Orange Blossom Hills Country Club, the oldest championship course in The Villages.
"We have found things we needed to change to make playing golf safe for our residents, and right now we are doing what we can to allow people to play the game they love to play."
Tee times are spaced further apart to avoid crowding on the dozens of courses at The Villages. Golf course bars and restaurants are closed. Still, stir-crazy golf enthusiasts are flocking to the fairways, Trivett added.

At the Villages, golf is a way of life that apparently never stops, not even during a global pandemic.

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