Aspen Golf Course eyes opening once COVID-19 protocols are in place |

Aspen Golf Course eyes opening once COVID-19 protocols are in place

The Aspen Golf Course is working with Pitkin County officials to have in place COVID-19 safety protocols in order to open, which could be as soon as next week.

“The county is putting together a template,” Steve Aitken, director of golf at the municipal course, said Thursday. “That should be early next week.”

Aitken said he already has drawn up safety policies and procedures for staff and customers, based on courses that are operating around the country.

“We looked at what’s going on in the nation and the industry,” he said. “We’re surveying other courses and refining.”

Aitken is working with Jordana Sabello, the county’s planning, prevention and partnerships manager, as well as Sheriff Joe DiSalvo.

“Jordana is the public side of this and the expert,” DiSalvo said, adding that the county government will oversee the opening and enforcement of the Aspen course protocols, along with three others that are in the county but are private. “Because of my passion for golf and that I’m on the incident management team, I’ve asked the golf courses to send their plans.”

All four of them likely will have close to the policies and procedures that the county’s template will have, since they are modeled after what the United States Golf Association is doing.

“It’s really good that they are on the same page,” DiSalvo said.

Protocols will center around social distancing 6 feet apart, how to handle ball washers and flags, as well as whether carts will be allowed.

“Golf is a sport that has social distancing,” Aitken said. “There’s already etiquette in place that we’ve been practicing for years.”

Under the “new normal,” clubhouses and pro shops will be off limits, per the public health order that the Pitkin County Board of Health voted on last week, which allowed golf courses, construction sites and office supply stores to reopen.

River Valley Ranch golf course, located in Garfield County, has been open for weeks.

Players must pay online, not congregate around the clubhouse or tee boxes, keep the flags in the holes on the greens and not touch other golf balls, among other rules.

Aitken said he’s excited for the season to start, even with restrictions in place.

“We are getting the golf ready and taking care of the turf,” he said.

Aspen Golf has refunded 32 people who purchased early season passes prior to the pandemic hitting the valley.

Early-season pass prices will be extended through the year, Aitken said.

Details on pass pricing, payment plans and green fees will be forthcoming, he said, adding that the Red Mountain Grill in the clubhouse is open for take-out and delivery.

In the meantime, county officials remind people to be patient while the protocols are being developed.

“Everyone is anxious to play but we are trying to make it a safe opening for all four courses,” he said.

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