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Newport Beach Golf Course reopens, busy again

John Leonard, head golf professional, left, and Jerry Wyrick, head starter, follow safety protocol as they welcome guests at the Newport Beach Golf Course on Friday.
John Leonard, head golf professional, left, and Jerry Wyrick, head starter, follow safety protocol as they welcome guests at the Newport Beach Golf Course on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Many could hardly wait to return to some semblance of normalcy.

Quentin Hill, a freshman on the San Diego State men’s golf team, has checked online daily, hoping to find good news.

Hill found out that the Newport Beach Golf Course was going to be open on Wednesday, and he could finally stop counting the days since the last time he picked up a club.

“It was packed,” said Hill, who added that it had been 42 days since he had been on a golf course. “There was no tee times available. The tee times are selling out in like 10 minutes from when they open, so it’s crazy.”

Hill, 19, came to the course with his friend and former high school teammate Dylan Walsh, a senior at Dana Hills High. Both players live in Laguna Beach.

San Diego State University golfer Quentin Hill, and his friend Dylan Walsh, from left, are happy to be back practicing on the range at the Newport Beach Golf Course on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Walsh, 17, said he had a feeling that the cancellation of the high school season was inevitable. Going back out to the golf course was a breath of fresh air for him amid the disappointment wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s nice because [the coronavirus has] made everything so difficult, especially with making a decision for college and everything,” Walsh said. “It’s nice to be able to get back on the course and keep working at it.”

Marilee Johnson, 64, and Mira Winters, 59, were having a fine day as they walked off the green at the ninth hole. Johnson joked that they had journeyed “all the way” from neighboring Irvine to get a round in.

Winters added that the golf course was in great shape following the rain earlier this month.

Pool noodles have replaced cups and flags at the holes. Connect with the noodle and the putt is considered good.

Friends and longtime patrons of Newport Beach Golf Course, Mira Winters and Marilee Johnson, from left, walk off after a round on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“They don’t have to touch it,” said Jerry Wyrick, the head starter at Newport Beach Golf Course. “They just putt to it, and then they pick the ball up and move on. People are OK with that so far.”

Several precautions remain in place in observance of social distancing. The pro shop and restrooms are closed. Wyrick, 68, said that the driving range and golf course are open, although the players have to walk or use pull carts to transport their clubs.

Wyrick added that tee times have been staggered in an effort to space out players on the golf course. He also said that every other stall was available for use on the driving range.

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach will each be monitored by authorities, while Laguna Beach city beaches remain closed. Officials advise people to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the Newport Beach Golf Course reopened on Wednesday, business has been good. Cars filled the parking lot once more on Friday, even with the weather getting warmer.

John Leonard, the head golf professional at the course, said that a few of his regular lessons came by for instruction within the first three days back.

“They’re happier than heck to be out here, be out of the house,” Leonard said. “They’re all the same. They were pretty rusty, hadn’t swung a golf club or hadn’t done anything for at least a month.”

Leonard, 80, has been an instructor at the Newport Beach Golf Course since it opened for business in 1976.

Newport Beach Golf Course is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

David L. Baker Golf Course in Fountain Valley is also open to the public. Their hours are currently 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only the golf course is open, and players must walk as they play.

Quentin Hill, a golfer at San Diego State University, orders a bucket of golf balls for practice on the range as messages of safety protocols are placed in the window at the Newport Beach Golf Course on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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