By Ken MacLeod
It’s a busy time for golf courses near Tulsa and Oklahoma City that have remained open.
At Battle Creek in Broken Arrow, head professional Charles Gibson said the phone is ringing off the hook not only from regulars and golfers from Tulsa where the public and private courses are closed, but coming in from all over.
“We’ve had golfers coming in from northern states like Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and others where it’s either still too cold or the courses are closed,” Gibson said. “It’s been crazy. We’re booked solid from 7:30 a.m. to a minimum of 5:30 p.m. with a waiting list every day, and 80 percent of the waiting list we’re not able to help.”
Battle Creek and Forest Ridge in Broken Arrow and Bailey Ranch in Owasso are among courses attempting to handle their regulars and the overflow from both Tulsa and the influx of travelers. It doesn’t help that The Canyons at Blackjack Ridge in Sand Springs is closed for renovation, while Heritage Hills in Claremore and Pryor Creek in Pryor are closed by order of their respective city governments. Cherokee Hills at the Hard Rock Casino is closed, calls to Sapulpa Golf Course were not being answered Wednesday and Adams Golf Course in Bartlesville is restricting play to residents of Washington County.
Golf courses in Oklahoma were allowed to stay open thanks to an exemption from Governor Kevin Stitt to his closure of non-essential businesses. However mayors in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and elsewhere have issued stricter Shelter In Place orders that have closed courses through at least May 1.
In Oklahoma City, the closure of the city’s five municipal course complexes has sent golfers pouring into Guthrie to play the 36 holes at Cedar Valley and the 36 holes at Cimarron National, all built by the late Duffy Martin.
“We’ve been really busy,” said Jeff Martin, Duffy’s son who serves as the head professional and superintendent at Cedar Valley. “A lot of new faces. We’ve seen a lot of golfers from Oklahoma City and some even from the Tulsa area. We had a group come in from Bixby and play and they liked it so much they made a tee time for next week.
“I hate this for the courses that are closed, but it’s been good for us. We’ve had a lot of positive reaction from people who have never played here before.”
The Golf Club of Edmond has also been handling a lot of play from members, regulars and seeing many new faces.
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to introduce the course to a lot of golfers,” said assistant general manager Rylee Light. “We’ve taken a lot of extra steps to keep everyone safe and they all seem very happy to be out and with the course.”
With the peak of Covid-19 cases in Oklahoma predicted to occur this week or next, it’s not clear when Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum or Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt may look to relax the closure orders, or if they are willing to look at golf as a relatively safe activity and single it out from general closure orders. That may bring a bit of political heat but then again keeping the courses closed is resulting only in severe economic damage to those courses, not in keeping golfers from Tulsa or OKC home or from playing the game.
In Tulsa, courses closed are city courses Page Belcher and Mohawk Park, Tulsa County courses LaFortune Park and South Lakes (Jenks), and private courses Meadowbrook Country Club Southern Hills Country Club and Tulsa Country Club. Closed in Oklahoma City are Lincoln Park, Lake Hefner, Trosper Park, Earlywine Park and the James E. Stewart Golf Course. Kickingbird Golf Course in Edmond, the city’s municipal course and one of the busiest public courses in the state, is also closed.