CONWAY — This time last year, golf courses were in limbo due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Links across the state were closed until Gov. Chris Sununu permitted them to open the second week in May 2020. A petition calling on the governor to allow Granite State residents to play golf drew more than 8,300 signatures. Two of those signatures belonged to Jonathan Rivers, owner of Indian Mound Golf Club in Center Ossipee, and Mike Mallett, owner of the Wentworth Golf Club in Jackson.
They, along with other course owners, said they could create a safe environment for patrons to enjoy time out on the links — and they did just that.
“Last year was rough, but we came through it,” Rivers said by phone Friday. “There were concerns, we were concerned, but we all did the very best we could to make sure everyone was safe.”
Indian Mound had its third earliest opening when it teed off the season on April 15. “Hats off to the crew and the members who helped out the weeks before then. We’re looking forward to a great season.”
Last year, players had to arrive or remain in their cars until no more than 15 minutes before their tee time, at which time they could check-in and proceed to the starting tee; no gathering before or after play is permitted.
Pro shops/clubhouses had to remain closed. Remote and touchless check-in procedures needed to be utilized. Golf bags could not handled by anyone except the player.
Clubhouses could only operate at a limited capacity. Group play of no more than four was permitted with tee times spaced at least 12 minutes apart.
This year, “I think people will find things are mostly back to normal when it comes to golf,” said Joe Mosca, manager of Wentworth Golf Club.
Thanks to a short winter and early spring Wentworth is scheduled to open today, May 1. “We’re scrambling (golf pun intended) to open,” Mosca said.
He added: “We’re pretty much back to normal here. Masks will be required in the pro shop, but then it’s your choice on the course,” he said.
“Last year, it was kind of funny, people would come in and want to book a tee time, and we had to tell them to go outside onto the veranda and call us to do it,” he said. “Those were the rules.”
Tee times can be made by calling (603) 383-9641 or online at wentworthgolf.com.
Lake Kezar Country Club, the 1924 Donald Ross-designed course in Lovell, Maine, opened for the season Friday, and golfers, although a little wet, were thrilled to be back on the links.
Early-season rates until Memorial Day Weekend are 18 holes for $24, Monday-Thursday, and $28 Friday-Sunday. For nine holes, it’s $17 Monday-Thursday and $19 Friday-Sunday. Tee times can be made by calling (207) 925-2462 online at lakekezargolf.com.
Eagle Mountain House in Jackson also scheduled to open for the season on Saturday. Club Pro Bobby McGraw said the course is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., while the driving range is open daily until 4 p.m., but closed on Wednesdays. McGraw said tee times must be booked in advance, while only one foursome will be permitted on a tee at a time.
Early-season rates are $20 for nine holes of golf, while cart rentals for the round are $15.
Call the Pro Shop to book your tee-times at (603) 383-9111 or book online at eaglemt.com/golf-course.html.
At the Eagle, players must stay near their vehicles until 15 minutes before tee time. If it is 10 minutes before your tee time and the first tee is clear, you may proceed to the tee.
Only one player at a time can check in with pro shop staff. There will be no rakes in the bunkers, local rule to improve your lie is allowed. There will be no restroom facilities on the golf course or water stations.
The White Mountain Hotel & Resort and Hale’s Location Golf Course is in the midst of a $3.5 million renovation, and while the hotel is not set to reopen until May 28, the nine-hole championship golf course will open for the season this Saturday from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
PGA Pro Kim R. O’Neil is the head golf professional in time for the 2021 golf season. Call the Pro Shop to book your tee times at (603) 356-2140 or book online at haleslocationgolf.com.
Hale’s Location is scheduling tee times 10 minutes apart; only one person per party can check in at the pro shop; face coverings required indoors; a maximum of four people can play at one time; and no more than two people per golf cart.
Rivers, in his 33rd year at the helm of Indian Mound, said the 18-hole course will continue to “do all the right things” to keep people safe.
“The response to the early opening has been great,” he said. “I think people are excited to be able to play.”
Rivers said leagues will begin forming in the next couple of weeks and the River’s Edge Restaurant at the course is now open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Indian Mound opens at 7 a.m. daily. To book a tee time, call (603) 539-2901 or online at indianmoundgc.com.