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Golfers turn out in droves on ‘opening day’ at the course

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Golfers were excited to get on the links Friday at Belles Springs Golf Course in Mill Hall. From left, Larry Grove of Linden, Matt Bennett of South Williamsport, Jeff Hills of Cogan Station and George Summers of Williamsport practiced social distancing.

MILL HALL — It’s here. Finally.

After being closed through April, golf season officially arrived on Friday throughout the state. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf eased restrictions on golfing, allowing courses to open for the first time this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic took March and April away from golf enthusiasts. However, as the calendar turned to May, golf got back to business.

If the first day is any indication, golfers were chomping at the bit to get out on the links.

At Belles Springs Golf Course in Mill Hall, tee times were booked through Sunday evening.

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Jason Floruss of Lock Haven and Ron Dreibelbis of Centre Hall work in the Pro Shop at Belles Springs Golf Course on Friday afternoon. Floruss and Dreibelbis said they were “extremely busy” and completely books with tee times open to close on the first day of golf season in Pennsylvania. The start of the season was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carts were gassed up and ready to go and as soon as the sun was up, golfers were out on the course in force.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” said Billy Williams, who traveled to Belles Springs from Centre County. “The weather has been hit and miss this spring. Today is a hit.”

The weather was perfect for an afternoon on the course. Under overcast skies, temperatures hovered in the 60s for much of the day.

Larry Grove of Loganton was thrilled to get out on the links.

“This was long overdue,” Grove said. “Long overdue.”

Inside the Pro Shop, Jason Floruss of Lock Haven and Ron Dreibelbis of Centre Hall were directing traffic. They were taking in cash, handing out scorecards and, basically, keeping the peace as golfers lined up to take care of their greens fees.

They even had to turn a few disappointed golfers away.

“We’re booked through Sunday night,” Floruss explained.

It wasn’t a usual Friday at Belles Springs. With COVID-19 numbers still on the rise in Clinton County, there were precautions being taken. All of the carts were washed thoroughly before use and golfers were kept from coming inside the Pro Shop. All transactions were conducted through a small window in the garage area.

Few golfers donned masks, but most were socially distancing.

“I’m not too concerned,” Williams said. “The way I hit (the ball), I’ll be more than six feet from anyone.”

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