Courtesy of muscosportsphotos.com

The Yale Golf Course will reopen for the season on Tuesday, April 13 for the first time since the links closed for the winter last semester.

All 18 holes will fully reopen now that construction of the dam on Yale’s signature hole nine, known as “Biarritz,” was completed earlier this year, according to former Course Superintendent Scott Ramsay. The course’s general manager, Peter Palacios Jr., announced the reopening plan on March 19 in an email to Yale Golf Course constituents posted on the course’s website. Connecticut residents with active Yale Golf Course accounts, as well as Yale students enrolled in residence, will be allowed to use the course.

“This first session will operate through Sunday, June 27th and will follow the outlined policies listed within this announcement,” Palacios wrote in the email. “We are still facing many challenges regarding COVID-19 and, as such, our commitment on providing a safe environment for our staff and each of you, our supporters, remains at the forefront.”

Palacios’ official announcement detailed that social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be in effect throughout this first session of the course’s reopening. Everyone on the golf course must follow 6-feet social distancing. Facial coverings are not required when playing golf, but they are required in the golf course’s facilities or when an individual is within 6 feet of another person.

While the course will be open, not everyone will be eligible to play in this first session of golf. Only Connecticut residents with an active Yale Golf Course account will be permitted to register for tee times. Out-of-state guests will not yet be permitted to play the course, the announcement noted.

Playing on the Yale Golf Course will be free after 4 p.m. for Yale students enrolled in residence, while the faculty and staff rate of $75 applies prior to 4 p.m. Last semester, Palacios told the News that the course was free to play on for Yale students weekdays after 12 p.m. Before Palacios started last year, Yale students had to pay to play the course at any time of day, albeit at a reduced rate.

Other amenities at the course also remain out of commission. The clubhouse, pro shop, driving range and Widdy’s Snack Bar will stay closed. The practice putting green will be open in a limited fashion to ensure proper distancing.

Still, now that construction on hole nine has finished and the course is being maintained regularly again, golfers will now be able to play all of the Yale course’s 18 holes.

“The state of Connecticut has newer dam regulations and the work was done to satisfy those regulations,” former Superintendent Ramsay said. “The pond was originally a reservoir for the city and built with Civil War era standards.”

For some time last summer, the course was in a poor state because Ramsay said Yale’s COVID-19 protocols did not allow staff to maintain the course or golfers to use it. Even as Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont greenlighted the resumption of golf in late March, the course remained closed until late September, when it reopened under Palacios for the first time.

“The entire University shut down, every single staff person went home and the course suffered from that,” Ramsay told the News last fall.

The search for Ramsay’s replacement is nearing a conclusion. After a year of vacancy, Palacios, who joined Yale last August after the departure of Peter Pulaski, told the News that the new superintendent’s introduction is expected to come next week. The current acting superintendent is Matthew Golino, who holds a degree in turfgrass and soil science from the University of Connecticut, and has been with Yale’s course for over nine years.

Palacios had told the News on March 14 that the course was looking to open between April 6 and 9, but that the date may be shifted “depending on the weather” — it has since shifted to April 13. 

Another Palacios initiative has been the creation of the Yale Golf Course’s official Twitter account, @GolfAtYale. The account, activated in December 2020, had 245 followers as of Wednesday evening.

The Yale Golf Course was designed by Charles B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor.

Eugenio Garza Garcia | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu