Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Play returns to the Fresh Pond Golf Course on Thursday after a monthlong coronavirus shutdown. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The Fresh Pond Golf Course closed to walkers and opened for golf Thursday – after being opened for recreational walking only since May 13.

Golfing ended with the coronavirus shutdown in March, and there was an eventual public call for use of the closed nine-hole course for exercise. On May 8, the state government allowed cities and towns to reopen their courses for business – permission arriving just before city councillor Patty Nolan’s call May 11 for the course to be announced as open for walkers.  

Temporary signs around the golf course implied access, conflicting with permanent ones next to them telling people to stay out. 

Signs on the course make clear that other forms of recreation – allowed for roughly the past week – is not welcome. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The city had never offered guidance or guidelines until the governor’s order. But City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said May 11 that “the general public may continue to walk the golf course for fresh air.” Meetings to reopen the course to golfers, which would close it for everyone else, began the same day, he said.

Yellow barrier tape was put up at Wednesday at regular access points from the Fresh Pond Reservoir loop, signaling that the greens were again off-limits.

Elaborate rules have been released describing current use of the course, including the use of masks, need to stay 6 feet from other people and the banning of rented equipment and carts, unless they hold only the driver. Play is limited to nine rounds, the putting green is closed – and cups have been raised so balls can’t go in, to eliminate the cups being touched.

“The golf course would be limited even on a maximum capacity day to about 35 people on the course at the same time, and there are about 180 potential players throughout the day,” DePasquale told councillors May 11.

The wish of councillors including Nolan and Quinton Zondervan was that the course would stay closed until the length of Memorial Drive opened for everyone to have room for exercise and recreation at safe distances. But DePasquale told them that while he feared Memorial Drive becoming clogged with people coming from out of town, there would be relatively few golfers, “most of which would be Cambridge residents.”