The Villages has officially backed down on a controversial plan to force strangers to pair up in golf carts on golf courses.
District Manager Richard Baier announced Wednesday a change would be coming and on Thursday, The Villages Golf & Tennis Division began posting information announcing a reversal in the rule that was supposed to take effect Monday, Oct. 12. The golf course rules, put in place earlier this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, were to be relaxed as part of the Phase 3 reopening of the state of Florida.
Now golfers are encouraged to “pair up” in a golf cart with people from the same household, acquaintances or a fellow golfer with whom a Villager feels “comfortable.” Baier said the District is working with the Developer to make the policy uniform on both championship and executive golf course.
The idea of sharing golf carts with strangers has had Villagers in an uproar over concerns about their health.
“I am part of a 12-man neighborhood golf group. We play 18 holes on a championship course at least once per week, and often have two or three threesomes, depending on how many of our group are available to play. That, more often than not, means that a singleton golfer, a stranger to us, plays within our group. It is NOT safe for us to share a cart with that person, which is what you would force us to do,” Village of Briar Meadow resident Harry Miller wrote in a letter to the district manager.
Miller noted that due to age and health concerns, most Villagers should be considered part of a vulnerable population. And golf has been a lifeline for many Villagers during the Coronavirus crisis, he said.
“You will effectively remove our ability to play golf, one of the few safe activities we can use,” Miller said.
He added that he has no intention of picking up rakes or touching flagsticks because of worries of contracting COVID-19. Those changes are still expected to go into effect on Monday.