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Jubilant golfers shed their sweatpants, promising to keep their distance, avoid touching the flagstick and pay off bets by Venmo

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Golf

CHICAGO -- The headline on the Chicago Tribune's weather page Wednesday sounded more like a commandment than a prediction: "Enjoy today before a wet end to the week."

For many Chicagoans, that meant retrieving golf clubs from the garage and ignoring the "stay at home" requests from elected officials.

For Jeff Carrier, it meant playing nine holes under a sunny sky at the Village Links of Glen Ellyn.

"This is the happiest I've been in 10 days," he said. "I hate being cooped up indoors. I'm getting exercise and interacting with human beings."

Added playing partner Kian Dowlatshahi: "This is the first time I've been out of sweatpants in 10 days."

Officials at area golf courses learned Tuesday afternoon that lobbying efforts by groups including the Chicago District Golf Association had resulted in a revision by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

 

Courses could remain open provided golfers and staff maintain social distancing. Among the new rules: Golfers had to walk (no cart), pay by credit card and were instructed not to touch the flagstick.

"We'll play by the rules -- the new rules," said Reggie Devers, a Wheaton resident who played on the Village Links' nine-hole course with her husband, Jim. "This feels fairly safe ... ish."

Safe-ish might not be a term Dr. Benjamin Singer of Northwestern Medicine would use. But it does seem to apply.

"The best advice is to avoid going anywhere where you have to interact with people," Singer said. "Golf might be attractive with a few caveats -- if you can do it by yourself or with someone in-house you're exposed to anyway. Obviously don't share a cart and stay six feet away from people. That's easier to do in golf than basketball."

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