Kern golfers wave off warnings, hit links while keeping social distancing


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Kern County golf courses remain open and popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Golfers on the links Saturday told KGET the sport provides a fun and safe way to get out of the house while maintaining social distancing.

“We play all the courses. My friends and I play — we make the rounds,” said Terry Havener, who considers himself a regular at the Kern River Golf Course in northeast Bakersfield.

He said hitting the links allows him to escape stress while complying with social distancing guidelines. And he’s not alone — dozens of people enjoyed the course Saturday.

“I played here Thursday, and then I went to Costco after, and I felt much safer here,” Havener said. “You’re not in close proximity to people, you’re in the fresh air and sunshine. When I went to Costco, people were kind of rude. It was pretty congested. And I just wanted out of there.”

Other courses in Bakersfield also continue to operate, including the Links at Riverlakes Ranch.

California does not list golf as an essential business, and the Kern County Public Health Department website says health officers are investigating active “public gathering” complaints against all Kern golf courses.

However, managers with the Kern River Golf Course said they are taking social distancing guidelines seriously. Tape has been placed on the ground in the indoor area to ensure people who are paying for golf keep their distance in line. They’ve also closed off the entire dining room area in the cafe.

Management also says they’re asking people to walk the course, but if people absolutely need to ride, employees are sanitizing every golf cart, and they’re encouraging one golfer per cart.

Meantime Havener said he’ll continue to go for the hole in one as long as he can.

“This, mentally, it’s just wonderful to be able to get out. I think it’s a great environment. It’s safe. So I think we should keep the courses open.”

“I will be back,” he concluded.

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