NYC golf courses devastated by continued coronavirus shutdown


Live in New York City and want to play golf?

Get out of the city. It’s your only option. You’ll have to go play elsewhere — Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey or Connecticut, Pennsylvania, wherever … if you’re lucky enough to find a precious tee time.

Inexplicably, while golf courses all over the tristate area — and around the country for that matter — are open for play, the 13 courses in the five boroughs of the city remain closed, as they’ve been since they were ordered to shut down on March 22.

Not only have city golfers been deprived of critical outdoor recreation, but the operators of the golf courses are hemorrhaging money as they struggle to maintain the expensive upkeep of the properties without the business revenue to offset the significant costs.

“It’s devastating,’’ Rich McDonough, the director of golf at Marine Park in Brooklyn, told The Post on Friday. “You’re talking about multi-million-dollars-a-year businesses that have absolutely no ability to operate, and there’s no reason whatsoever why they’re not open.’’

Mike Giordano, who operates Marine Park as the concessionaire, said he “thought initially it was going to end in a couple weeks, then it became a month now we’re into our third month.’’

“This could be a death blow to us,’’ Giordano told The Post. “Nobody has unlimited funds. You exhaust your funds as the clock keeps ticking.’’

Giordano said he’s spending $100,000 per month to maintain the golf course with no revenue coming in and — most appallingly — no communication from City Hall.

“Mike is obligated to maintain these properties with no revenue, which is ridiculous,’’ McDonough said. “Every Nassau County and Suffolk County course is operating, New Jersey is operating, everything around the five boroughs is wide open. The nonsense behind this is all coming out of City Hall and [Mayor Bill de Blasio] doesn’t seem to have any kind of a plan.’’

Giordano said “the most troubling thing about this is nobody has identified any sort of finish line’’ for the end of the closures.

When The Post reached out to de Blasio’s office Friday asking for an explanation as to why 98 percent of the golf courses in the country are open but New York City’s are not, one of his representatives responded with this nondescript email: “Our golf courses remain closed to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers. We have been making progress though, and are currently assessing when these courses should reopen and how it can be done safely.’’

According to the city Parks Department website, all other city recreational activities, such as tennis, basketball and handball courts, are also closed. The difference, however, is that it doesn’t cost anything to close those down as opposed to the golf courses, which cost thousands of dollars per day to maintain.

“I’m very sensitive to the fact that this pandemic is very serious and that people are sick and dying and that New York City is the epicenter of the virus,’’ said Michael Tafet, who operates four of the city courses. “But I still feel that golf can be done in New York City in a safe way — the same way it’s being done all over the country. Golf has opened up in 98 percent of the U.S., and the courses are operating under very strict social distance guidelines which have been very effective.

“Right now, New Yorkers are dying to get out there and get some exercise and recreation. They need it for their mental health. Our phones are ringing off the hook with hundreds of calls a day from our golfers asking, ‘When are you opening? When are you opening?’ And we don’t have an answer for them, because we’re not being told anything.’’

Tafet, who along with his father operates Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx, along with Kissena, Forest Park and Douglaston in Queens, said they’ve already lost $535,000 with no revenue since the city courses were shuttered.

“We’re almost running out of money,’’ Tafet said.

“If I had a store, I can close the store and control majority of my expenses,’’ Giordano said. “But with the golf course, it’s a living entity. If we don’t maintain it, it will die. And if it dies, you’re talking about millions of dollars to get it back. I’ve got 10 years of my life and millions of dollars tied up in this.’’

Giordano said, “if not’’ for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, “I’d have had to shut the lights off already, but the clock is ticking.’’

Giordano has had other issues at Marine Park that have had a piling-on effect. On Sunday night, he had more than a quarter of his golf carts destroyed by vandals who broke into the cart barn — a cost he estimates to be about $100,000. He also has had trespassers on the golf course.

“Our 12th hole looks like Flushing Meadow Park, with people picnicking with beach balls and hanging out,’’ McDonough said.

“I can’t keep the people off the course,’’ Giordano said. “People are so desperate to get out and into an open space or a space that isn’t their apartment, we’re getting hundreds of people on the course picnicking on the greens with children playing in the sand traps. We don’t have police power and we’re trying to be as diplomatic as we can. But I can see as this thing goes on, it’s going to be a problem.

“People are really fed up.’’


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