Golf isn’t mentioned in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s coronavirus emergency order requiring all Texans to “minimize in-person contact” except to provide or obtain “essential” services.

Many interpreted the directive, in effect April 2-30, as allowing golf courses to stay open.

On a conference call Tuesday with local officials, the governor reportedly clarified that golf courses are “non-essential” under his order and would be closed starting that day.

But Golf News Net reports the governor’s message was not clear to all officials on the call.

Adding to the confusion, Abbott then announced the temporary closure of state parks and historic sites but didn’t mention golf courses.

Abbott’s statewide order says people may leave home for “essential” activities, as long as necessary precautions are maintained to reduce COVID-19 transmission and minimize in-person contact.

The order, which supersedes conflicting local orders, lists “visiting parks” and “engaging in physical activity” as examples of essential activities.

Last Friday, McKinney City Council spent 45 minutes deciding golf courses are essential under the city’s shelter-in-place order, allowing them to stay open if they followed health and safety guidelines.

City officials argued McKinney’s municipal course is a park, and golf is a physical activity, so they qualify as essential under the governor’s order—though the mayor and others said it was obvious that players weren’t following 6-foot distancing rules.

Following Tuesday’s call with Abbott, golf clubs and local officials were still looking for clarity.

Jefferson County immediately closed all golf courses, only to reopen them the following day, citing new “guidance” on operating rules.

On Wednesday, Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt closed the local golf club, citing Abbott’s order.

Dallas-area professional golfer Edward Loar tweeted his disappointment and questioned why there “seems to be some different interpretations in the state.”

Local officials, course operators, and golfers remain confused about the governor’s order. Maybe Abbott will clarify his clarification?

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.