Play Safe: 13 Rules

How to stay safe during COVID-19 at Sterling Farms

THE GOLF COURSE, AND DRIVING RANGE, ARE OPEN—SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING RULES.  PLEASE READ THESE RULES CAREFULLY.  THEY ARE INTENDED TO HELP ENSURE YOUR SAFETY, AND THAT OF THE SFGC STAFF.  ANYONE CAUGHT IN VIOLATION WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY, AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO A LOSS OF GOLFING PRIVILEGES FOR THE SEASON.

Paul Grill, Executive Director, Stamford Golf Authority
Paul Grillo, Executive Director, Stamford Golf Authority

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for: Sterling Farms is open. Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy, and the fact that Sterling Farms is open is joyous, but we all need to move gingery, as everything is a work in progress while the world strives to transition itself back to normal.

That means we must do all we can to ensure that the golf course stays open permanently, the staff is protected and appreciated, and we are all as safe as we can be.

To achieve this goal, Paul Grillo, the executive director of the Stamford Golf Authority, has 13 simple, common sense rules you, and everybody else around you, needs to follow. These ground rules are for your own safety, and the safety of your fellow golfers, as well as the entire golf course staff, who really are on the front lines, and need us to help them be as protected as possible from any and all means of transmission.

There are wind advisories forecast for tonight, and rain forecast for the first day of play tomorrow, so Friday might be a ‘soft opening’ for our beloved Sterling Farms Golf Course workers as they strive to regain their footing, and begin engaging with the public after the closure. Saturday, however, is going to be the reverse: it’ll be a sunny, warm day, and a likely ‘shock to the system’ for everyone who works at Sterling Farms, as this is all new. That means how you conduct yourself, your adherence to the rules Paul has outlined, your sensitivity to these brave workers, as well as your own honesty with yourself, will go a long way toward making the opening the success we all want, need, and are praying for.

In short: please be vigilant, humane, and honest with yourself and others.

Rule No. 1: Six (6′) Feet of Social Distancing

  1. EXERCISE SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING (THAT MEANS YOU KEEP A MINIMUM OF SIX FEET [6′] APART FROM OTHERS). THIS MUST BE MAINTAINED AT ALL TIMES WHEN ON THE PROPERTY, INCLUDING IN THE PARKING LOT, DRIVING RANGE, AND ON THE GOLF COURSE.
Keeping six feet of space between yourself and others is Rule No. 1.

Notice that is Rule No. 1. It is there for a reason: because it only takes one molecule of the virus to infect you, and the stuff can spread like wildfire. The sooner we get rid of this virus, and it’s ability to thrive, the better. If you stay at least six feet (6′) away from everyone else, you’ll be safer, and ensure the safety of others. Avoid touching anything with your bare hands. I know this is obvious, but how often do you pick up a tee peg off the ground because it’s just the right size, say on a par 3? Do you lean on anything when you are waiting? Lots of things to touch at the driving range. Try to use gloves, and avoid contact with hard surfaces. It’s easy to forget yourself, and grab the flag stick. Two-foot (2′) gimmies are now the local rule. Take away those short putts, for your health, and that of others. Now is the time to avoid unnecessary contact, and eventually things will return to normal, Think of this as your ‘duty’. Tell yourself: “It’s not optional.” Rule No. 1 is there to protect you! Here’s a great video on the subject, of social distancing, from the CDC:

Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Rule No. 2: Wear a Face Covering at All Times

  1. EVERYONE MUST BE WEARING A FACE COVERING WHEN ENTERING THE STERLING FARMS PROPERTY, PURCHASING GOLF TICKETS, AND RANGE BALLS, DURING SNACK BAR TAKE OUT, AND IN THE PARKING LOT AREA. GOLF GLOVE/S MUST ALSO BE WORN. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR CDC FACE COVERING EXAMPLES.
Face Mask is Rule No. 2.

The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  We can get lax about these two critical rules when we are golfing, thinking we are far enough apart from others for it to be safe, but the virus can spread in a breeze too, and you don’t want to catch this thing, right? So, Rule No. 2 is of paramount importance. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Here’s how to make your own face covering.

Rule No. 3: Leave Immediately; Don’t Congregate

  1. YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY LEAVE THE PROPERTY AFTER YOUR ROUND AND DO NOT CONGREGATE IN THE PARKING LOT.
Rule No. 3: You are required to leave after you are done playing. Please don’t congregate!

It’s just natural to want to chat a little before parting company after a round of golf, especially after being so pent up these past two months, but please don’t set the wrong example for others by doing this, as it may be others who unknowingly could spread the virus. Others will pick up on your actions and vice versa. We want to put this thing down, and the best way to do it is for us all to stay away from grouping up or gathering for even a minute. It only takes a millisecond to spread, so be disciplined and we will all reap the rewards of such efforts.

Rule No. 4: Alcohol from Snack Bar Only

  1. SNACK BAR WILL BE OPEN FOR TAKE OUT ONLY ON A LIMITED BASIS – NOT EVERYDAY – ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHICH ARE NOT PURCHASED ON THE PROPERTY ARE NOT PERMITTED AT ANYTIME.
Please buy your alcoholic beverages from the Everyday Snack Bar at The Stillery. They have a great selection!

No tailgating (see also Rule No. 3 above), or alcoholic beverages in coolers, brought from home (or anywhere else) allowed. The Distillery Everyday Snack Bar’s staff, management, etc., are all in need of your support and patronage. These are extraordinary times, and while money is tight for most, we can all do our share to keep the wheels of commerce moving during these uncertain times. Please support the Everyday Snack Bar by purchasing any and all alcoholic beverages from them, when they are open. Call ahead to see if you can pick-up your order using your cell phone. A good example is before you play your tee shot on No. 8. The Everyday Snack Bar phone number is: (203) 998-7225.

Rule No. 5: One Golfer to Each Cart

  1. GOLF CARTS WILL BE SOLO RIDER ONLY AND AVAILABLE ONLY AS LONG AS SUPPLY LASTS.  GOLF CARTS ARE SANITIZED AFTER EACH USAGE. 90 DEGREE CART RULE WILL BE IN EFFECT AT ALL TIMES UNLESS CERTAIN HOLES AND/OR AREAS ARE MARKED CART PATH ONLY. WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL WHO CAN WALK THE COURSE TO DO SO.
Keep contact to a minimum, by allowing only one golfer per cart.

There are lots of hard surfaces on a golf cart, and sitting next to another golfer puts you inside six feet (6′), where you may be in harms way. For your safety, and that of your fellow golfers, please refrain from sharing your golf cart. Walking the course isn’t always so easy for everyone, but if you are able to walk, that is good. Golf carts do make play at Sterling Farms much more accessible, and it’s common courtesy to offer walkers rides up big hills sometimes, such as on No. 12 especially when it is hot and humid. This season, and until further notice, please refrain from sharing the cart, under any circumstances.

Rule No. 6: No Practice Putting or Chipping

  1.  PUTTING GREENS AND THE CHIPPING GREEN WILL REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Sterling Farms Golfer Steven Lines enjoys the practice green last July. Please be patience while wait to enjoy this privilege.

This is an extraordinary time we are living in, and we all want to practice our chipping and putting on golf course superintendent Michael Golden’s stunning putting surfaces that surround the Pro Shop, but for now, they are off limits. Please do not sneak onto them, as tempting as they may appear to be, as it will encourage others to follow you, and soon the golf course will have to take action. Right now, hard as it is, the best thing you can do is to use the time you play as your practice.

Rule No. 7: Reservations Only. 15. Ready Golf.

  1. ALL PLAYERS MUST HAVE A RESERVATION TO PLAY (NO WALK ONS) AND MUST ARRIVE NO MORE THAN 15 MINUTES PRIOR TO THEIR TEE TIME. READY GOLF MUST BE PLAYED AT ALL TIMES.

Singles especially: Book your tee time in advance. Bookings for all golfers need to be done online here at the Sterling Farms website, or by calling the starter at (203) 461-9090 by phone. This will protect you, and the staff, from any further unnecessary face-to-face interaction.

They ask that you please arrive 15 minutes early, and when you are out on the course, that you play ‘ready golf’, which means there is no need to stand on etiquette or make a ceremony of things, just hit your shot, or putt, when you are ready.

Rule No. 8: Don’t Touch Pin When Putting

  1. ALL PLAYERS MUST PUTT WITH THE PIN IN, FLAGSTICKS SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHED. SAFETY CUPS HAVE BEEN INSTALLED, ALLOWING PLAYERS TO RETREIVE THEIR GOLF BALL WITHOUT TOUCHING THE CUP.

If you haven’t played golf this season, there are little things to do, avoid, and adapt to when you are out on the golf course. Firstly: the pin must be left in, and you should not touch it. Don’t even touch the cup, or rub your fingers along the ground around the hole. There is a two-foot gimme rule to eliminate the need to even go there! Enjoy the benefit while you can!!

British golfer Mark Crossfield (he ought to be wearing a mask) has some good thoughts on how to play safely to each green.

Rule 9: Smooth Sand With Foot in Bunker

  1. BUNKER RAKES, WATER FOUNTAINS, BALL WASHERS AND OTHER HIGH TOUCH POINT ITEMS ON THE PROPERTY HAVE BEEN REMOVED.  WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE SMOOTH THE BUNKERS WITH YOUR FOOT WHEN EXITING.
I have found this nasty bunker before, and it is huge! Sterling Farms rakes have been removed, so smooth your divot and footmarks with your shoe as you’d like to see it if your ball were to land in the same spot. The Sterling Farms Men’s Club is holding its first event of the year this weekend, and are very competitive. They have a free drop rule, which you could implement as well while playing.

The Sterling Farms Mens Club has been at the heart of the golf course since 1972, just after it opened. Personally, I was just nine years old back then, and I’m 57 now, so a lot of history there I never experienced. In fact, I joined the club last year, and never played a single event (well, a final three club gathering at the end of the season, but that doesn’t count). The Mens Club is worth looking into. Just because I was too busy to leverage all it has to offer, means nothing: this club rocks!! Now is the time to get in too, as they accumulate points all year for the big prizes. It isn’t too late. You can look into it further, and join for $88 here.

Check out the Sterling Farms Mens Club tournament rules for this weekend. They reflect the above Rule No. 9, and are designed to protect everybody, and keep the pace of play moving!

  • Winter Rules Until Further Notice.  Lift, clean and place within your own fairway…one club length, no closer to the hole.
  • Gimme putts still temporarily acceptable…but only up to two feet.  I’m talking about the length of your foot, doubled, give or take an inch or two.  Please don’t abuse this rule.  None of us like it, but we’re trying to be extra safe.
  • Free drop in bunkers.  With no rakes in bunkers, you’re bound to end up in a footprint that should have been raked.  You may consider that lie ground under repair and take a free drop no closer to the hole at the nearest point of relief…or a “back on the line” drop outside the bunker for one penalty stroke.

Rule No. 10: Restrooms are Closed

  1. ON COURSE RESTROOMS WILL REMAIN CLOSED.
More information than you want to know, but restrooms are not good for protecting you from COVID-19 right now.

As horrible as this may sound, pathogens linger in toilets for hours. It is just not safe to have hoards of people going into the restrooms, putting staff cleaners, and other golfers, at risk. Try to take care of whatever you need to do before you head out to Sterling Farms. It is a major inconvenience, but necessary in order to make golf available to all.

Rule No. 11: Resident Permits – June 1, 2020

  1. 2020 RESIDENT AND NON RESIDENT GOLF PERMITS ARE ON SALE AT THE TICKET OFFICE ONLY.  ALL 2019 RESIDENT AND NON RESIDENT GOLF PERMITS WILL BE EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 1st.  PRIOR TO JUNE 1st, ANY STAMFORD RESIDENT THAT DOES NOT HAVE A 2019 GOLF PERMIT WILL BE PERMITTED TO SHOW THEIR STAMFORD ADDRESS DRIVERS LICENSE TO RECEIVE THE RESIDENT RATE. AFTER JUNE 1st, ANYONE WITHOUT A 2020 RESIDENT OR NON RESIDENT GOLF PERMIT WILL BE CHARGED THE NON RESIDENT RATE.  PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT IDENTIFICATION IS NEEDED.

Rule No. 12: Driving Range Procedures

  1. ONE PERSON AT A TIME WILL BE PERMITTED TO ENTER THE DRIVING RANGE BUILDING TO PURCHASE GOLF BALLS.  RANGE MATS ARE LIMITED TO MAXIMIZE SOCIAL DISTANCING.  ALL PLAYERS WILL BE REQUIRED TO WAIT THEIR TURN A MINIMUM OF 6′ APART IN THE PARKING LOT AREA IN FRONT OF THE DRIVING RANGE WHICH IS BLOCKED OFF AND EXIT THE RANGE AT THE OPPOSITE END. RANGE HOURS WILL BE 7AM TO 9PM UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Please note the new rules for how the driving range works.

If you have rubber gloves, wear them when you enter the driving range building, which will only permit one golfer at a time inside. This will protect you from any hard surface spread. The range is set-up differently now. Fewer mats will mean a wait in the parking lot to gain access. This means you really need to wear that mask, and pay attention to how close you are to others while you want.

Rule No. 13: Use a Credit Card, and Exact Change

  1. PLEASE BRING CREDIT CARD PAYMENT FOR GOLF AND EXACT CASH FOR THE DRIVING RANGE. CUSTOMERS WILL MANUALLY SWIPE THEIR OWN CREDIT CARDS.

Money is dirty. In some countries, they have been washing their currencies! We are too rich to wash all of that money, but if you bring exact change to the driving range, you will protect yourself from receiving change that might have been contaminated. Also, it will protect the employees you’ve come to know and befriend.

The driving range balls require cash. There are two price levels: one before 9 am; the other after 9 am, as follows:

Driving Range Fees 
Small bucket weekdays before 9 a.m. – 40 Balls$5
Small bucket all day weekends & weekdays after 9 a.m. – 40 balls$7
  
Medium bucket weekdays before 9 a.m. – 70 balls$10
Medium bucket all day weekends & weekdays after 9 a.m. – 70 balls$12
  
Large bucket weekdays before 9 a.m. – 110 balls$13
Large bucket all day weekends & weekdays after 9 a.m. – 110 balls$15

Closing Remarks

Nobody wants you to have a good time at Sterling Farms more than the people who work there. From the guys blowing leaves in maintenance, to Paul Grillo (the boss), and everyone in-between: your safety and health, and that of the entire Sterling Farms family, is on the line. Paul Grillo, who has made this golf destination the envy of all others in the region, writes:

Although we will continue to sanitize and make every effort to provide a healthy enviornment, PLEASE MAKE RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS, BASED ON YOUR PERSONAL RISK PROFILE, ON WHETHER TO EXPOSE YOURSELF TO OTHERS AND THE GOLF COURSE. We will continue to provide outdoor recreation to our customers during this heightened alert period as long as everyone obeys the above safety practices and we will continue to monitor the recommendations by the CDC, local, state and national authorities and keep you updated if anything changes at the course.  IF YOU, A FAMILY MEMBER OR SOMEONE YOU HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH HAS RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS, PARTICULARLY A FEVER,  DO NOT VISIT THE COURSE. We appreciate your understanding during these unprecedented times!

Paul Grillo, Executive Director, Stamford Golf Authority

From the desk of Paul grillo, executive director, Stamford Golf Authority

Welcome to Sterling Farms Golfer. Over the past five decades, Sterling Farms has evolved into one of the premiere golf destinations anywhere in the region. We continually strive to maintain, if not exceed, that distinction, and know we owe it all to our Stamford families, friends and neighbors, as well as our patrons like you. Now is the best time of the year to play our spectacular 18 hole championship golf course. Our Golf Course Superintendent, Mike Golden, and his whole team, are leaders in the world of greenkeeping, and we are very proud of the quality of their hard work. I think you'll find our putting greens, fairways, tees, roughs—and every landscape feature here—reflects their devotion and hard work. It is spectacular. Sterling Farms is home to the area's top driving range facility. You won't find a better value, or level of quality, anywhere! We take great pride and joy serving you, and our local community. On behalf of all of us here at Sterling Farms, welcome and thank you!
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