MERIDEN — Four days after Hunter Golf Course was given clearance to re-open by the state, it’s been closed again.
The city made the decision to shut the gates at its municipal course after large turnouts on Thursday and Friday made it very difficult to maintain proper social distancing, even with a number of prospective golfers being turned away.
“We couldn’t ensure the safety of the players and we couldn’t ensure the safety of our employees, which is why the decision was made to close operations at the course,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati said Monday afternoon.
Scarpati consulted with city, health and course officials and announced Sunday that Hunter would be closed starting Monday.
There is no timetable for re-opening. The priority, Scarpati said, is on limiting the spread of COVID-19. By the time the mayor had made his announcement on Sunday, there had been 16 positive tests in Meriden. On Monday, it was up to 21.
Monday’s closing marked the end of a see-saw five weeks at Hunter. After opening Feb. 22 due to the mild winter and enjoying one of its best starts ever, Hunter ceased operations March 23-25 in the wake of Gov. Ned Lamont’s decree that all non-essential businesses had to shutter, including golf courses.
There was second-guessing over that designation. If residents were free to walk in a park, the logic went, why couldn’t they walk a golf course and play 18 holes?
The state reconsidered and gave golf courses the green light, allowing them to re-open so long as a number of social distancing precautions were followed, such as spacing out tee times at least 10 minutes apart, riding one to a cart and maintaining a minimum six feet of separation between players.
Hunter struggled to maintain those standards even with tee times spaced 16 minutes apart and a number of golfers getting turned away.
The nice weather on Thursday and Friday brought out large crowds. At first, the pro shop lacked a self-swiping credit card reader. Then, when one was obtained, there were glitches and delays.
Once on the course, not everyone rode one to a cart and, once their rounds were over, not everyone was quick to exit, creating something of a “tailgate” situation in the parking lot, as Scarpati phrased it.