Open for business, but taking precautions during pandemic


The Duran Golf Club is open for business and practicing social distancing guidelines in the face of the coronavirus pandemic Pictured from left, are head pro Matt Morrison, Jerry McAnulty and Calvin Sierota.

Carl Kotala

Jerry McNaulty and the rest of the Duran Men’s Golf Association members have always followed the tradition of having players take off their hats and shake hands following a round.

Now, because of the coronavirus, they elbow bump instead.

“It’s a matter of understanding,” McNaulty said. “You understand what’s going on, so you adjust accordingly.

“… We’ve made adjustments and the adjustments are working out. I haven’t heard any complaints.”

Elbow bumps aren’t the only precautions being taken at Duran, which is considered an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic. The club has implemented a number of safety precautions to keep players safe.

Duran PGA head pro Matt Morrison said the club has gone to single cart riders and those carts are sanitized after every use.

The club also is promoting walking the 6½-mile course at a reduced rate of $25.

There also have been adjustments made at the bag drop area. Only one car can pull up at a time and none of the staff members will touch the golfer’s bags. It’s all self-service.

Rakes have been taken out of the bunkers and no one is allowed to touch the flag sticks. In fact, the club has taken a pool noodle and cut a piece off so it can sit in the cup.

“The ball, when it goes in the hole, it only submerges a couple of inches,” Morrison said. “It still goes in, but you don’t need to stick your hand all the way down to get it out.”

The Tradewinds restaurant has been temporarily shut down and only three people are allowed in the pro shop at any one time. The club also has gone to credit card only transactions so that no one will be handling cash.

Two tee times every hour have been blocked off the reservation list to help control the number of people showing up and coming off the course at the same time.

At the club’s driving range, artificial mats that are 10 feet apart have been put in place at all tees, so people can’t get too close. The range balls and baskets are sanitized after each use.

The club also has been stressing and doing its best to monitor players on the course to maintain social distancing practices.

“It’s been real busy,” Morrison said. “As far as the number of rounds, it’s only been down slightly. … Most people are following the rules because they’re thrilled that we’re open.

“It gives them something to do. They get their exercise and their Vitamin D. Most of them are real receptive to everything we ask them to do.”

While golf courses have been able to stay open during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean there are golfers who have not been affected — particularly at the college and pro level.

Calvin Sierota, a sophomore at Florida State and a Viera High School graduate, had his season cut short. Although he understood the reasoning, Sierota called it “demoralizing” after spending all last summer and the fall preparing to play a season that he won’t get to finish.

“Week to week, you go to the hole and you’ve got something in mind that you’re working toward,” Sierota said. “Now, you’re just kind of free flowing until we get word that something’s going to change.

“… It is sad, especially for us, because we were trending in a good direction.”