By Burt Graeff

Golfers normally do not tolerate topped tee shots, shanked 7-iron shots, or shots smacked into the woods. They are much more tolerant during these days of coronavirus. Why? Because, thanks to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, they are able to play golf. They are able to get out to enjoy the sunshine and interact with others… at a safe distance.

With many businesses shut down, or operating under heavy restrictions, the 36 golf courses in the greater Tucson area remain open. Included among those is Rolling Hills Golf Course, located on the city’s east side. Rolling Hills will not be confused with Pebble Beach, or Augusta National. Rolling Hills is a sporty 4146-yard, par 63 track that has nine par four holes, nine par three holes and no par fives.

It opened in 1962. The course designer is William F. Bell, a noted architect from California who also designed two other Tucson courses – the Forty Niner Country Club and the Tucson Country Club. Bell’s most famous design is  Torrey Pines, in La Jolla, Cal.

Making a golf course safe during COVID-19 is not easy. “We want our golfers safe, and we want them to enjoy the experience as well,’’ said Rolling Hills assistant pro Jeremy VanTassel. “We allow one person per cart, unless it is a married or related couple. We disinfect each cart after every round.”

VanTassel said that even the carts’ keys are disinfected following each round. Rolling Hills has 36 golf carts. “We have an additional 10 if needed,’’ VanTassel said. “We also have many walkers who play here.” Rolling Hills averages about 100 rounds a day.

Not everyone agrees with Ducey keeping golf courses open. On sites such as Nextdoor Digest, there have been numerous posters arguing that golf courses are not an essential business and, as such, should not be open. At one area golf course, there have been reports that some people living in homes along the course have yelled at the golfers.

VanTassel said he has not heard of any complaining. “People who play here are grateful that we are open,’’ he said. “They are enjoying themselves. They are having fun during a period of stress.”

On a recent visit to Rolling Hills, the parking lot was packed. The restaurant – the Niblick Bar & Grill – was closed, but people were enjoying take-out orders on the outdoor patio. The restaurant was re-opened in mid-May. “At twenty percent capacity, VanTassel said.

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