Like every “non-essential” business in Washington, Mt. Adams Country Club in Toppenish is ready to get back to normal. It’s even harder to accept the statewide stay-at-home order when the weather is so nice.
“It’s been pretty rough, especially with the days being like they are,” said pro shop manager Rick Sifuentes, who has been sitting on his hands since Gov. Jay Inslee issued the stay-at-home order in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“I understand what the governor is doing, but golf is one activity you can do with social distancing. Fishing and hiking, too. People need to have an outlet, and when you take things away from them, they get frustrated.”
Sifuentes and others in the Lower Valley golfing community are hoping Inslee will ease the stay-at-home restrictions on May 4, when the current order is scheduled to expire. He said the country club had been successful in implementing social distancing measures earlier in the season, and he believes the members would be amenable to those rules again.
“A lot of courses started requiring one person per cart and asking people to leave the pins in the holes,” Sifuentes said. “Instead of shaking hands after a match, they would bump elbows like we’re supposed to do. We can do all of those things again — whatever it takes for us to start playing again.”
Golfers in the area have been calling the Mt. Adams pro shop to find out when the course will reopen, but unfortunately, Sifuentes doesn’t have an answer for them.
“Like everyone, we’re hoping to know more soon,” he said. “We’d like to start up again in a couple weeks, but we have to play it by ear.”
While he is hopeful that golf might return to Toppenish in early May, Sifuentes knows more challenges lie ahead. With the economy slipping, many people won’t have extra money to play golf. Others will be concerned about a second wave of the virus and will continue to stay home.
Being without golf has been bad enough, but for Sifuentes, missing out on the social interactions has been the most disheartening aspect of the shutdown.
“I’m really missing the members and the other people in the community who come out and play,” he said. “This has been really hard on people everywhere.”