‘We can play a small role in helping people get through this’: Powhatan golf course embraces change to welcome players

Local News

POWHATAN, Va. (WRIC) — At Independence Golf Club in Powhatan County, social distancing is being taken seriously.

Last week Virginia Governor Ralph Northam gave the green light for golf courses to stay open — as long as they follow social distancing protocol and adhere to the 10-person limit indoors.

A “normal” and beautiful day at this course means about 150 rounds of golf. Right now, according to management, they’re on par. Last Saturday, about 150 rounds were played. This weekend, they anticipate the same turnout.

“It’s not popping champagne corks — it’s a very somber time,” says Independence owner Giff Breed. “But if we can play a small role in helping people get through this we’re very very excited.”

Breed says both of his daughters are doctors, and he knows the impact on frontline health care workers as they try to flatten the curve of this virus. That’s why he’s taken the federal social distancing protocol to heart for his business.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety not only of our patrons but also of our teammates.”

There are several changes in place to promote safety.

“We wanted to make sure when a golfer came here they didn’t have to touch anything but their clubs,” he explained.

All rounds of golf are paid for online ahead of time — no cash allowed. On the driving range, there is now only room for ten to swing at a time. Usually, 30 can fit in the area.

Out on the course, golfers are asked not to touch flags, and floaties are at the bottom of the hole, allowing for easier access of the golf ball after making a shot.

Independence is also only allowing one person in each golf cart at a time, though Breed says many players are choosing to walk instead.

“We’ve even seen a fair amount of folks who’ve never really played come and hit balls on the range,” said Breed. “It’s something that’s open it’s something that they can do.”

Bill Smiley was out on the Independence course Thursday. He tells 8News he has been golfing for 50 years — but right now he’s even more grateful for this hobby.

“We’ve been cramped up a lot, but it’s been nice to be out,” said Smiley.

With changes to social distancing and state protocol coming often, Independence says it does have plans in place if more safety changes need to be made.

For now they know golf is good for the body — and the mind.

“If you’re locked up in your home for what will probably be six, 10, 12 weeks…there needs to be some outlet to get out of the house and do something,” Breed said.

This Powhatan golf course is actually in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and right now Independence has pushed back all tee-times by an hour so that neighbors have time to walk the course before golfers get going each morning.

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