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Golf Courses Deluged
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-05-06

            Golfers in the Upper Perkiomen valley returned to their sport in droves last weekend. Area courses hosted unusually large crowds after Gov. Tom Wolf lifted

A golfer hits past a pond at the Sweetwater Golf Course

in Upper Hanover on Sunday.  Courses throughout the

Upper Perkioimen Valley area were packed last weekend.

restrictions related to COVID-19.

            "People are thrilled to be out," said Sheila Hersh Schaffer, whose family owns and operates the Macoby Run Golf Course, located at 5275 McClean Station Road, in Marlborough Township.

            Over the initial three days of the new season, beginning May 1, the course hosted more than 500 golfers. Schaffer said its two-day total for Saturday and Sunday accounted for its two busiest days ever without hosting a tournament.

            "It was insane," she said. "Our tee sheet filled up faster than I've ever seen. Our phone was ringing off the hook."

            At the Butter Valley Golf Course & Airport, located at 3243 Gehman Road in Upper Hanover, 550 golfers played. According to owner John Gehman, Friday was the slowest of the three days. However, he said it was much busier than a normal Friday.

            "People were anxious to get out," Gehman said. "It was a very nice atmosphere."

            At the Sweetwater Golf Course, located at 2554 Geryville Pike in Upper Hanover, at least 300 golfers played the nine-hole course over the three-day period. Owner Jeff Vietmeier described the turnout as better than expected.

            "It was a very good weekend," he said.

            At the Hickory Valley Golf Course, located 1921 Ludwig Road in New Hanover, more than 500 golfers played one of its two 18-hole courses. Steve Holauchock, the course's director of golf, described Saturday and Sunday as a sellout.

            On the course, the players appeared to cooperate with state mandated social distancing requirements. At Butter Valley, players arrived within a few minutes of their starting times, which were reduced by 50 percent, according to Gehman. He said the golfers played faster than usual.

            "The whole weekend went better then I feared it might," Gehman said.

            At Macoby Run, Butter Valley and Fox Hollow, course managers installed put a small Styrofoam donut around the bottom of each flag stick to prevent the ball from going in the hole. Hickory Valley utilized inverted holes.

            "Everybody seems to know what to do," Vietmeier said. "No one has complained a bit."

            Under the current conditions, golfers are not permitted to touch the flag sticks or the sand trap rakes, according to Schaffer. She said players at Macoby Run are encouraged to bring their own water and are limited to one person per cart.

            At all four facilities, the biggest changes for players came before their first tee shot. At Macoby Run and Butter Valley, customers who paid with cash were required to provide exact change. At Hickory Valley, all 214 of its Sunday players paid with credit cards, according to Holauchock.

            At Macoby Run, golfers who paid in the pro shop were assisted by an attendant standing 20 feet away. At Hickory Park, no more than two people at a time – both of whom are required to wear a mask – are allowed in the pro shop, according to Holauchock.

            At Sweetwater, golfers interacted with an attendant through a sliding glass window, according to Vietmeier. Gehman ran his operation on an outside table. People paying in cash were required to slide the bills through a slot in the pro-shop door. He said Butter Valley's clubhouse, except for a bathroom, remains closed to the public. 

            Though Schaffer and Vietmeier welcome the financial rewards of the return of golf, both await guidance on the use of banquet facilities, which have been closed throughout the state for nearly two months. At Macoby Run, Schaffer said she didn't think it would host a tournament or wedding all year. At Sweetwater, the country club generates most of its revenue by utilizing its banquet facilities and restaurant.

            "Without those funds it's going to be tough," Vietmeier said. "But the golfing revenue definitely helps."


 

 

 

 

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