Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Golf gets back into the swing after virus closure

Local golfers find renewed joy for game as courses reopen

By , Columbian sports reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Washougal resident Mark Fennell pitches into the 10th green at Tri-Mountain Golf Course on Tuesday in Ridgefield. Fennell has been staying active by golfing in Oregon but enjoyed the sunshine as golf courses reopened Tuesday around Washington.
Washougal resident Mark Fennell pitches into the 10th green at Tri-Mountain Golf Course on Tuesday in Ridgefield. Fennell has been staying active by golfing in Oregon but enjoyed the sunshine as golf courses reopened Tuesday around Washington. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Sunshine and blue skies welcomed golf’s return to Washington.

Following a more than month-long forced closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that courses around the state could reopen to play Tuesday.

It didn’t take long for amateurs to find solace on the links once again.

“I’m rediscovering my joy of the game,” said former Evergreen golf coach George Konzek, who hadn’t golfed in two months.

Before COVID-19 disrupted daily life, Konzek had clubs in his hands six days a week.

“I couldn’t wait to get back out again,” he said.

Someone might be hard-pressed to not find Tuesday afternoon at Tri-Mountain Golf Course rather peaceful. The course was immaculate. Pitch marks on greens have long since smoothed out and divots have filled in with lush grass after a month of no play.

The pace of play was blistering as well. With only two-somes permitted and the course far from full, golfers were making the turn in under two hours, unheard of times on a typical 70-degree day in May.

“It’s in perfect condition,” said Washougal resident Mark Fennell, who was using a gift card that set to expire May 31. Fennell was playing with his son, Alan, on Tuesday.

“We really have to thank the fishermen,” Fennell said of golf reopening in Washington. “It’s hard to get people to listen to golfers who just want to play. The fishermen, I really think that’s what did it.”

For recent retiree HR Warren, it was just nice to have a place to practice again. He was looking forward to golfing after retiring three weeks ago. But with nowhere to play, his post-work journey into links life had to wait.

Warren didn’t play a round Tuesday, rather he spent time on the putting green and practice areas. He hasn’t practiced since the closure.

“Before I play with anyone, I know I need to get the rust off,” he said.

Warren was surprised how quiet the course was Tuesday, as several singles set off for their rounds with large gaps between groups. “I thought it’d be busier.”

The return didn’t come without restrictions. At Tri-Mountain golfers paid green fees through the walk-up window as the clubhouse was cordoned off inside. Signs also reminded golfers to stay six feet apart and mind other social distancing guidelines. Ball washers and rakes were nowhere in sight.

“They made it idiot-proof,” Konzek said of the restrictions. “It’s a piece of cake to follow.”

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