Golf teed up again in Port Arthur; mayor signs order allowing play

Published 4:51 pm Monday, April 13, 2020

Golfing is again permitted in Port Arthur.

Mayor Thurman Bartie signed a third amendment to the Stay Home-Work Safe order Monday, allowing the activity within city limits as long as businesses and patrons practice proper social distancing guidelines.

According to city officials, Bartie made the move Monday in keeping with the Texas Attorney General’s opinion issued Saturday requiring social distancing protocols and compliance with public health instructions.

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All persons playing or practicing on golf course properties must:

  • Follow the CDC Guidelines and social distancing protocols.
  • Use separate golf carts for each golfer.
  • Golf carts must be sanitized before and after each use.
  • No more than three people may occupy the clubhouse and other offices at any time, while following social distancing requirements and public health protocols.
  • Those playing may not touch the flagstick, which indicates the position of the hole on the green.
  • Golf balls are not to fall into “the cup.” Foam cups will be utilized to keep the golf balls above ground.

The move is a reversal for Bartie, who last week said he did not plan to relax his order to keep golf facilities closed, despite Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick’s reversal of a similar measure.

Babe Zaharias Municipal Golf Course operator George Brown did not see any reason he considered plausible for the golf restrictions in Port Arthur.

“I have a contract with the city to operate the contract, and the city must recognize that,” Brown, who is CEO of Aquila Golf, said Thursday. “We’ve been following the judge’s order above and beyond. I’m paying rent to the city, and now the city wants me to pause what I’m doing?”

Bartie had signed an amendment to the “Stay at Home, Work Safe” order Wednesday spelling out the closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order is set to expire April 30 unless otherwise lifted or extended.

Wednesday was also the day Branick signed a seventh addendum to his own “Stay at Home, Work Safe” executive order nixing an earlier addition he signed the day before to close golf facilities in the county.

Babe Zaharias Municipal, or “The Babe,” is the only active golf course in Port Arthur. Workers could be seen taking care of the course near the clubhouse Thursday morning, as Brown said they would take care of some projects while the course and golf shop are closed. Brown added he’s applied for Small Business Administration loans to keep his workers employed.