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Greenwood’s Johnny Freeman works on his chipping at Greenwood Country Club. Golf is in full swing as the club is taking precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participation in amateur golf in Mississippi has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Greenwood Country is no different.

Club officials have said several times they have noticed an uptick on the links since the coronavirus hit in early March. They are also excited about the upcoming Greenwood Country Club Invitational golf tournament in July, barring any unexpected setbacks with the spread of the virus.

While most golf clubs across the Magnolia State have remained open through the madness while taking the proper safety precautions for staff and golfers.  

Some of the restrictions are that you have to ride in your own cart, so no two people in a cart unless from the same household and most things have been removed from the golf course that can be communally touched.

For Greenwood insurance man Robert Pannell, it’s been nice to finally have good spring weather for golf and to see so many golfers out taking advantage of it while we work our way back to the “new normal.”

“After the wettest winter ever, my daughter Jane Rob not playing ball anymore and a virus named after a beer — golf this spring has been a huge uplift,” said Pannell. “Tournament golf is still on hold, but I believe it’s coming back soon. Golf is a good way to get some vitamin D!”

Pannell said that with the fears of COVID-19 still spreading and with most practicing social distancing, golf is an ideal activity.

“You are out in wide open spaces and you don’t have to be hugging up on anybody,” he said. “We are sending out invitations right now. We may have to do a few things differently, but we’re moving forward quite nicely.”  

The golfing boom is a nationwide trend as recreational golfers flock to the fairways as a respite from stay-at-home guidelines and lifestyle prohibitions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Golf, with its wide open spaces, still seems safe.

According to the New York Times, in New Jersey’s Somerset County, the five municipal golf courses recorded 6,501 golf rounds in the first 19 days of March, a 300 percent increase over the number of rounds played in all of March last year.

Earlier this week, the Mississippi Golf Association decided to extend the postponement of its Championship Schedule based on the current Safer in Place Executive Order and the restrictions and guidelines that it contains along with the current CDC recommendations. The postponement now extends through June 15 and will postpone the State Games Junior Championship as well as the Women’s Amateur Championship.

The women’s State Am is now set for Aug. 7-9 at Diamondhead Country Club. Greenwood’s Cissye Gallagher has won the prestigious event a record 12 times.   

In a statement from the MGA, events beyond June 15th have not been affected or postponed and that the organization is hopeful that this will remain the situation. The release went on to say: “The MGA will continue to closely monitor the quickly changing climate and lean on the recommendations and mandates provided from the government and health officials to make any future decisions regarding tournament golf.”

As of now the MGA plans to open its tournament season with the Father-Son/Daughter on June 19-21 and the Men’s State Amateur on June 25-28, 2020.

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or bburrus@gwcommonwealth.com. Follow on Twitter:@Bill_Burrus.

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