Golfers tee off as courses open up in Dartmouth

May 9, 2020

It didn’t take long for South Coast golfers to get back on the green after Governor Charlie Baker announced the reopening of Massachusetts’ courses from May 7.

“The second that the governor opened up golf courses at 10 o’clock, I’d say by 10:10 the phone had rung 20 times,” said Nick Jagoe, head golf professional at Allendale Country Club, on Friday morning. “People have been chomping at the bit to get out of the house.”

The courses have been following new restrictions set forth by the state government, including maintaining social distancing, 15-minute tee time intervals, and no putting practice or driving ranges.

Golf carts are also not allowed, a rule that has upset some golfers.

“People who can’t walk or are disabled are disappointed that they can’t use carts,” said Rick Jalbert, who was smoking a cigar on the club porch. 

He had been driving to Connecticut for three weeks to play golf, he explained, and can’t walk the course due to a knee injury. “I just like being here,” he said.

“We’re not doing any walk-ons, you’ve gotta be on the tee sheet,” Jagoe said. “Makes it a little bit easier for us to control. That’s the biggest thing out of the gate, too — getting a good grasp on it, following the guidelines. Just trying to give people a little bit of an outlet here too.”

He said he was happy to be back at work.

“I’d much rather be out at work and busy than sitting there and waiting,” he said.

On Friday, the parking lot was packed with those waiting to tee off. They all said they were excited to be there.

“The worst thing they ever did was close golf courses,” said Bob DuBois. “Ultraviolet rays and fresh air are the single best thing for a person.”

“Anyway I called up [the governor] and told him that, and he agreed,” he joked.

DuBois normally plays golf every day, he said. During the more than six weeks that courses were closed, he added, “I picked up every leaf I could find. My yard is clean, anyway.”

“We were all in contact as soon as the governor said they’re open,” said New Bedford resident Don Waff, who was teeing off with his colleagues from Titleist, a golf equipment manufacturer headquartered in Fairhaven. 

“It wasn’t a second too soon,” he added with a laugh. “My wife would have killed me if I’d stayed home any longer.”

“It’s better than being cooped up in the house,” agreed fellow Titleist golfer Mark Britto. “I was looking forward to this.”

Britto said he likes “absolutely everything” about the game, although this is only his fourth season playing. “The sad thing is, I worked for Titleist for 20 years before I ever swung at a golf ball,” he said.

“I didn’t want anything to do with this game,” he added with a wry smile. “And now this is all I think about.”