Your Stories: A look into a golf club’s annual member-guest tournament amid a pandemic

Spring Brook Country Club

Throughout this difficult period, Golf News Hub will explore what it’s like to actually live through this moment. Here we will print your stories about how this is affecting you, your family, your friends … your daily life. Email us your story.

Here is the 11th installment in our series.

Depending on where you live in the U.S., your golf club’s annual “member-guest” or “invitational” tournament may look very different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Back in April, clubs in the northeast and west coast would not even think about hosting an event, but it probably would have been completely acceptable down South. By July, the roles have reversed.

This anecdote comes from New Jersey’s Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown just an hour west of New York City, the onetime epicenter of the pandemic. Members here escape the trudges of the “new normal” each day by coming to enjoy the club. Now that I have spent most of the year at home because of COVID-19, I came out of caddie retirement for “one last dance” or should I say “one last long walk” this summer.

Each week has gotten more familiar to summers past at Spring Brook. Caddies started the golf season only carrying rakes and wearing gloves, but by early June we started carrying bags again without any restrictions. Then I noticed the tennis courts opened as well as eventually the swimming pool. Spring Brook is somewhat back to normal and a welcome oasis from the reality outside its gates.

When the “Travis Invitational,” named after famous course designer Walter Travis, arrived last week, I was interested to witness what type of restrictions or guidelines the club would enforce when hosting over 100 guests over three days. However, the club had not really changed its normal day-to-day operation and simply tried to pull off the best event possible under the current circumstances. Members and guests circulated freely throughout the grounds keeping apart at a relatively safe, social distance. No one was allowed indoors other than to use the locker room.

Outsiders may have looked at these three days as a bit reckless, especially if they saw the close-knit revelry on the outdoor deck when the golf was over. Also, considering where any of the guests might have been over the past few months and whom they may have been in personal contact with, it can only lead one to wonder how easily the event could have unraveled.

After a safe, fun weekend, I took it as a positive sign forward. Spring Brook began the pandemic crisis as a community asset for those in need and strictly followed state guidelines. There has not been a single case reported from the club and the members have been diligent in their onsite behavior. While the tournament was delayed by inclement weather and subsiding daylight, the hope now is to extend the same carefree attitude into our everyday lives as well.

- Dan Wooters
Morristown, N.J.

(Dan Wooters is an employee of Buffalo Groupe, which owns and operates Golf News Hub.)

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About the Author
Dan Wooters has been with Buffalo Groupe since May 2018. He began his career with the Metropolitan Golf Association in Elmsford, N.Y., and has mostly remained in the golf industry ever since, including stints with the PGA of America and PGA TOUR. Dan is a two-time graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is a part-time hotel owner and enjoys traveling the world as much as he can. He currently resides in Arlington, Va.

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