Golf is “One of the Only Things to do” During a Pandemic
OXNARD, CA – Golf has found its biggest draw as the coronavirus continues to halt the sports world. With outdoor green fairways and instilled social distancing within the game, many families are participating in the sport in record numbers, seeking some normalcy to their daily coronavirus restricted lives.
River Ridge Golf Course returned to operating its 36-hole grounds five weeks after shutting down in March. At the time, one hundred staff members were laid off. Once the state cleared golf courses to open, sanitation stations, plexiglass and limited cart access immediately appeared across the facility. Initially, five employees returned upon the opening. As of September, roughly 25 full-time paid employees maintain the day-to-day operations.
River Ridge saw roughly 500 people a day. Assistant General Manager Susan Olson-Sipes said it was insane.
“We’re 30 percent, at least, higher than we were pre-pandemic because it’s one of the only things to do,” said Olson-Sipes. “Families are playing more, and people who have maybe given up on golf before are back at it.”
Golf Starter Keith Jacobson, who’s been with River Ridge for roughly six years, says he’s never seen tee times filled wall to wall but understands why people are coming out.
“You’re outdoors enjoying nature,” Jacobson said. “You don’t have to be indoors with four windows and four doors. This is breathing air, and staying safe. Being six feet apart and enjoying four and a half to five hours of leisure.”
Former players and newcomers have filled the greens almost every day. New golfer Jacob Ontiveros has played baseball for the majority of his life. It’s the sport he’s passed down to his kids. But since the pandemic, he connected with the sport that his grandfather once played. Ontiveros decided to give golf a challenge.
“I gave myself five months to see if I could par every hole,” said Ontiveros. “I’m close, but I’m not there yet. Eventually, I have two more months to see if I could do that.”
As COVID-19 lingers, tee times continue to pile up across golf courses in Southern California. With the recent conclusion of the 2020 Masters Tournament, some golfers could be inspired to set up for a match.
Video, Cindy Rodriguez
By Cindy Rodriguez Photo, Cindy Rodriguez Video, Cindy Rodriguez