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Parks, beaches and recreation centers are closed, but golf courses are open. Why?

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So it’s a good question and I’m going to continue to look at golf courses,” said Governor Raimondo.


Parks, beaches and recreation centers have been closed in our state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, per order of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, yet golf courses remain open. Yesterday, according to various news reports, three Massachusetts men – Gregory Corbett, 51, of Attleboro, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, of Taunton, and Nye Cameron, 22, of Taunton – were charged with willfully violating Governor Raimondo’s executive order requiring people traveling to Rhode Island to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival. The men presumably came to Rhode Island because golf courses in Massachusetts have been closed.

Some on social media say this is a class issue, that the reason golf courses are allowed to stay open is that rich people golf. There is some evidence that golf is not a game for the poor and middle class. Bob Cooks at Forbes wrote about how a declining middle class was killing golf, in 2014, for instance.

UpriseRI asked about the policy of closing some venues but not others at Governor Raimondo’s press briefing on Saturday.

“So it’s a good question and I’m going to continue to look at golf courses,” said Governor Raimondo. “At this point we have golf courses, public as well as private, on very strict guidelines around how few people can be together, one person to a cart. We are policing to make sure that there aren’t large groups of people bunching together. If, after this weekend, and we’re out watching, it looks like folks aren’t following the rules, then I’ll have to close golf courses. But, I want people to be able to do something [outside]. So if you can follow the rules and do it safely with social distancing and proper cleaning, we’ll let you stay open. If they can’t, we’ll have to shut you down.”

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com