By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Despite the COVID-19 situation, Owasso’s Bailey Ranch Golf Course has managed to stay open during the pandemic through the summer with strict rules.
Bailey Ranch is a par-72, 6,726-yard course best known for its holes winding their way through creeks, lakes, trees, thickets and native grassland. It has hosted the National Golf Association’s Hooters Pro Tour in the past and is ranked among the top 10 golf courses in Oklahoma by Golf Digest. It has hosted high school regional tournaments, baseball fundraisers, golf fundraisers and other local benefit tournaments.
“We host quite a few benefit tournaments, along with some public tournaments as well as state golf association tournaments,” Bailey Ranch Director of Golf Corey Burd said. “Last week we had the Oklahoma Golf Association qualifier for their match play. We typically do a lot of events. This year has been a little bit different; because of the COVID situation, events haven’t been taking place. We didn’t have a high school golf season, so it’s been challenging.”
Burd is also the head coach of the boys’ golf team at Owasso High School. Although people could still tee off when the lockdowns occurred, social distance policies had to be enforced.
“We never closed,” Burd said. “We went through stages. The first stage, when it got really serious, we moved our tee times to 15-minute intervals. We were limited on carts, only sending out 16-20 people per hour to limit interaction. Then there were a lot of things we were doing as far as sanitizing. We removed a bunch of touchpoints from the golf course that would encourage people to leave the (flagpoles at the holes) alone. Then we sanitized carts every time they came in.”
Only one person was allowed per cart. People were still allowed to play in groups of four.
Thankfully, nobody who plays there has tested positive for the coronavirus.
As for prep golf, Burd has led the Rams to two Class 6A state championships, the last coming in 2019. Because the 2020 season was canceled by the pandemic, the team could not defend its title. “It was frustrating,” Burd said. “I had all my starters back. I’m not going to say we were going to be the favorites, but we were definitely going to be in contention. We had a lot of experience with an entire championship team back.
“But again, we’re talking about people’s lives. At that time, we didn’t really know what’s going on. We had to be extra careful. That was the decision made and my kids just have to learn to deal with it,” Burd added. “It’s very similar to golf. You get bad breaks and you get good breaks and we just got a bad break this year.”
Despite there not being a season, players continued to practice, whether it be the driving range or the course.
“Some are going on to play college golf and they got tournaments that they were preparing for and getting ready for outside of OSSAA,” Burd said. “But, yes they continued to practice but I couldn’t coach them because I’m their coach and the school had a policy against coaching kids during those time frames. We were somewhat limited in what they could do. But, they were still working on their games for sure.”
Some players practiced at Bailey Ranch, some practiced at the Patriot, some practiced at Owasso Golf and Athletic
“Golf is one of those sports where you have your own equipment,” Burd said. “You don’t touch anyone else’s equipment. It’s a solitary sport. You’re out there by yourself, so social distancing is pretty easy. Frankly, that’s one of the reasons why we’ve remained pretty busy for sure.”
Needless to say, people are happy to have the privilege to still play.
Bailey Ranch has since taken steps to have golfers resume play in normal routines.
“On June 1, we went to 12-minute intervals, still allowing people to ride by themselves if they chose,” Burd said. “Then July, we went back to 10-minute intervals.”
Two people can also ride a cart if they wish.