When New Jersey’s golf courses re-open Saturday morning, golfers should be prepared for yet another “new normal”. Golf, as we know it, will be different for the foreseeable future.

Beginning when you reserve a tee time until you leave the parking lot of your club or local public course, be ready for some big changes. Plan ahead and seek answers to your questions before leaving home, since policies will differ among courses. Be advised that many facilities will enact more stringent restrictions than those set forth by the government.

Here’s what you should know before going to the golf course:

Understand your obligation to others – and the law. Gov. Murphy indicated that compliance with his order will be closely monitored. Please use common sense and exhibit common courtesy. Do not congregate, remain six feet away from others at all times, and be mindful of the CDC’s health guidelines. Social distancing is critical to returning our society closer to normal; it is also essential in keeping golf courses open. While face coverings are not required, they are strongly encouraged.

Adhere to course policies and instructions of course employees. Please appreciate the employees who are required to enforce protocols that are in effect for everyone’s health and safety. Asking for an exception to the rules is inappropriate and irresponsible. Defying restrictions put others at risk, and are now illegal, in many cases.

Tee Time Reservations. Golfers must arrange and pay in advance for tee times via telephone or through a course’s on-line reservation system. This means that golfers should not simply “show up” and expect to “walk on”. Reservations and advance payment are required.

Tee Times & Groups. Tee times will be scheduled in 16 minute intervals and restricted to groups of two (twosomes), except in very limited circumstances. In some cases, courses may elect to permit immediate family members, domestic partners, or caretakers to play together in groups greater than two (but no more than four); however, this is at the discretion of each golf course.

Closures and unavailability. There will be no bag drop or curbside services. Clubhouses, pro shops, and restaurants (except for take-out, where available) will be closed. Expect limited restroom facilities. Drinking water will not be available on golf courses; ball washers, bunker rakes, benches, and other conveniences will be removed. In general, expect a “skeleton crew” of staff members; only those necessary to open and manage facilities will be present.

Golf carts and pull carts. Golf carts will be available for rent (subject to a course’s individual policies and the weather), however they are restricted to one rider. Alternatively, many courses permit the use of pull carts (double check your course’s policy) – some may require that you bring your own.

Caddies. Not permitted.

The Flagstick. Do not touch the flagstick; it must remain in the hole. If the hole has been cut, and there is a mechanism present to retrieve your ball, please use the device carefully. If the hole liner is above the hole and your ball strikes the hole liner, consider it holed.

Score Posting. The NJSGA strongly encourages that all scores be posted regardless of whether a golfer can hole out. If holes have not been cut as usual (e.g., the hole liner is above each hole, or each hole is covered), record your most likely score for each hole. A graphic demonstrating this procedure is below. Note: When using this procedure to determine your most likely score with a raised hole liner or covered hole, please use your best discretion as to whether the ball would have been holed. For example, if a putt grazes the edge of the raised hole liner or cover, it should not be considered holed.

After your round, post your score through your GHIN App, or at the NJSGA website: NJSGA.org. Also – it is likely that score cards and pencils will not be available, so bring a pencil and paper - or use the Hole by Hole Score Feature on your GHIN App to post as you play.

This website requires javascript. Please enable it or visit HappyBrowser.com to find a modern browser.