High school golf back in full swing with first sanctioned event held since March

Coronavirus

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (WJW) — The fall sports season is in full swing at Brookledge Golf Club in Cuyahoga Falls. 

“I feel we are pretty fortunate. We are one of the only sports that is not in jeopardy. I mean, we follow pretty strict rules out there to keep everybody safe,” said Jackson High School senior Zach Sieverts.

High school golf is the first fall sports event of the season across Northeast Ohio.  It is the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s first sanctioned event in five months, since sports was shut down in March due to COVID-19

“It’s been a good four months since anything has happened so it is really cool to be back out with they guys,” said Clark Nemer, a Walsh Jesuit High School junior.

Competition is allowed under OHSAA and Ohio Department of Health guidelines because it is considered a non-contact sport. Even though the athletes are competing, health and safety protocols are still in play. 

“Almost by definition, you are social distancing from the beginning, unless you are in a cart but the boys walk and the girls walk,” said Dan Bjork, one of the golf coaches at Walsh Jesuit High School.

While the game may still be the same, the rules are a little different, like no touching of the flag stick and no raking of the bunkers. 

“You have to putt with the pin in; you are not allowed to touch the pin and there is, for lack of a better term, a noodle cut so that the ball doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the hole,” Bjork said.

Players are also adapting to new rules outside the game, like wearing a mask when not on the course and social distancing on the team bus. 

“We have one kid per seat so nobody sits together,” said Sieverts.

“We are not doing any school vans. We are all just doing parent drop-off or we are just driving ourselves,” Nemer said.

It will take some getting used to for sure, but these golfers are happy to be out playing and competing while other sports remain in limbo. 

Golf, girls tennis and volleyball are considered non-contact sports and are allowed to hold competitions.  Contact sports like football and soccer can practice but are not allowed to hold competitions at this time.  

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