Steamboat Golf Club opens for the season but with restrictions |

Steamboat Golf Club opens for the season but with restrictions

Golfer Andy Buchholz spends a few minutes on the putting green at the Steamboat Club Club. Golfers started playing rounds at the course west of Steamboat Springs on Sunday and are hoping for a busy spring despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed down the nation. The course has adopted several new rules aimed at social distancing.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Golf has always been a game with plenty of what we’ve come to call social distance. As long as it’s not a major professional tour, the greens aren’t packed with people, just dotted with a few buddies looking to get some swings in.

That’s why, despite most of the country being shut down due to concern around COVID-19, golf courses are opening.

The Steamboat Golf Club is now open with limited hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with 20-minute intervals between tee times.

In order to open, the club had to ask the county for permission. The Routt County commissioners deferred to the Governor’s Office for guidance and interpretation of the statewide health orders as to whether or not the local course could open.

“They have indicated that golf courses can reopen,” said Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton. “We didn’t believe that golf courses were a significant point of concern, for us, so we did not issue a more restrictive order that would close golf courses.”

Golf courses will function as any other business right now and are required to have a COVID-19 site mitigation plan per the third health order issued by Routt County.

“There’s a long list of things that they are doing to reduce the possibility of transmission,” Melton said. “Of course, we are working closely with them to make sure those measures are in place and are being followed by their employees and customers.”

Tom Taylor, Steamboat Golf Club’s general manager and head professional, said the course might even go down to 15 minute intervals starting next week.

“We wanted to make sure the spacing was good at 20 minutes, because it’s a big deal if people bunch up,” he said. “They didn’t, so we’re going to go with 15, and I think we’ll still be able to keep our spacing the way they want us to.”

Steamboat Golf Club on-course policies
  • Touch only your equipment
  • Practice safe distancing (6 feet apart)
  • Wear a mask
  • Do not gather on the tee
  • Do not play through a group or join a group
  • Exit the course upon completion of the round

Since golfing is a sport with little interaction between large groups of people, courses around the country are opening. As long as golfers stay in groups with people they are already socially isolating with, there’s no additional risk to spreading or contracting the virus.

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control as well as those implemented at the state and local levels, the club is operating differently. The clubhouse is closed to the public and only open to the limited staff.

Payments can only be made through online booking or over the phone, but never in person. With that policy, there are no walk-ups or in-person payments.

Steamboat Golf Club has a whole page on its website dedicated to its COVID-19 policies, which are also required to be posted on site.

Steamboat Golf Club can’t rent out golf carts or push carts, and if a solo golfer signs up for a tee time, they won’t be put into a group.

The golf courses at Haymaker and Catamount Ranch are both aiming to open in mid-May, but it’s unclear what that will look like yet. With Governor Polis’ safer-at-home order replacing the stay-at-home order April 27, it’s still up in the air exactly what recreation will look like in the coming weeks.

Locals are taking advantage of the new recreation option, as Steamboat Golf Club is already busy and booked solid a couple days ahead. Taylor said the nine-hole course on the west side of town is already in good shape.

“That snow we got last week was what we really needed,” Taylor said. “We were dried out. They’re going to fire up the irrigation system (Wednesday). The greens came through the winter really, really well. The rest of the course needs a little warmer temperatures.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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