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Golf remains on course

Businesses across Farmville have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the town’s two active golf courses are no different. However, though The Manor Golf Club and Farmville Municipal Golf Course have had to make coronavirus-related adaptations, they have been open for play without interruption this spring and summer.

The Manor Golf Club General Manager Doug Treen confirmed the course has never shut down during the pandemic. Among the adjustments made, it had a one-person-per-cart rule for a period of time that cut down on the amount of traffic the course had, but it was still able to stay open even then.

Treen said the pandemic has affected The Manor both positively and negatively.

On the negative side, there are more complications, more expense associated with cleaning carts and all, and more people involved in the overall effort.

But on the positive side, golfers from outside the area that used to play The Manor a lot have made their return and been impressed with the course’s improved quality compared to its status in previous years.

Overall, business at The Manor has probably increased slightly during the pandemic, Treen said. He offered his explanation for why.

“I think the thing is, it’s like, ‘What do you do?’” he said. “You can play golf or go fishing. Those are about your two choices for an outdoor activity.”

And he alluded to how it is not hard to follow rules like social distancing while playing golf. The Manor has helped golfers adapt to each new set of rules that have been put in place during the pandemic.

“When we were in Phase 1 of the governor’s (reopening) programs, then it was a matter of we put individuals into single carts, which was a little, in some cases, kind of foolish, because you get four guys that get in the car in Richmond and drive down here, and then you put them in four separate golf carts,” Treen said.

He noted that since the area went into Phase 2 and so forth, The Manor has been able to put people together on carts.

“And if somebody had a real problem with that, felt that they had possible complications, family-wise, or something like that, then we gave them an individual cart,” he said.

As for who has contributed to The Manor’s uptick in business amid the pandemic, Treen stated golfers of all ages have.

He said school restarting has led to an influx of young golfers during the week. He added that since these students are doing virtual classes, they have a little more freedom than they had before.

“The uptick, basically, on the weekends and stuff has been the older, middle-aged golfers, the longer-term golfers,” he said. “These are more of the people I’m talking about who came back and saw the quality of the golf course, the changes we’ve made over the last couple of years, and said, ‘Wow, this is good,’ and so they’ve come back again. So that’s been good for us from that standpoint. I think we’ll get some people who will stay with us that have been away for a while.”

Treen said that so far, The Manor has had no conflicts or problems in its operation since March, and he hopes this can continue.

Farmville Municipal Golf Course (FMGC) Certified Instructor Monroe Preston said that at the beginning of the pandemic when the governor began closing things down, FMGC became closed to all but walk-ins, and those walk-ins could play free of charge.

“You just couldn’t get a cart,” Preston said. “Carts weren’t available.”

He noted that after a period of time, the course did allow golfers to use a cart from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

FMGC has now returned to its regular hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m., he said.