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For golfers at the Jersey Shore, the governor's latest announcement was a perfect drive that split the fairway.

A welcome respite has arrived for what is forecasted to be a great weather weekend at the Jersey Shore. Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday that he is signing an executive order that will permit all parks and golf courses in New Jersey to reopen beginning on Saturday, May 1.

Murphy's order directly applied to state parks but simply gave counties and municipalities the option to reopen their golf courses and parks at their discretion. Private golf courses and public golf courses not operated by the counties are also permitted to open.

Monmouth County officials almost immediately followed suit. A message on the Monmouth County Park System website Wednesday afternoon confirmed the county would open its golf courses on Saturday.

Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haynes on Thursday said the county will also open eight major parks and its two county golf courses on Saturday.

The executive order does not require face coverings in parks and on golf courses, but Murphy strongly recommended people wear them. Social distancing will continue to be monitored and Murphy warned that the order will be reversed if people do not follow the guidelines.

“We’re basically saying: We’re prepared to trust you,” Murphy said during his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday. "You’ve been trusting us, and we will never forget that. We’re returning some amount of that trust by saying, ‘We’re gonna open these up, but you’ve got to behave in a certain way.’”

“We’ll be looking very, very closely this weekend in how people adhere to these, both social distancing guidelines as well as whether or not you’re covering your face. If we don’t like what we see, I hate to say this, I reserve the right to reverse the executive order that I’m signing today. So please enjoy the parks, but stay away from each other. Do not congregate. Wear a face covering, be responsible. If we have a good weekend this weekend, that hopefully can lead to better days ahead. We can keep these parks open.”

Several limitations will be enforced at all golf courses:

  • Tee times will be staggered at least 16 minutes apart
  • All tee times must be reserved either by telephone or online
  • Tee times will be limited to two players except for threesomes and foursomes including immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.
  • Golf carts will be limited to one person except for immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.
  • Frequent sanitation of high-touch areas including golf carts and push carts, range buckets and restrooms.
  • Golfers cannot touch golf holes and flagstics
  • Pro shops and golf centers will remain closed
  • Bunker rakes, benches, ball washers and water coolers will be removed
  • No club or equipment rentals
  • No caddies
  • Miniature golf courses and driving ranges will remain closed

The Monmouth County Park System hopes to have online tee times available for booking by 8 p.m. Thursday night. Monmouth has six county courses, some of which are among the highest-rated public courses in New Jersey.

Monmouth County Parks System golf courses

  • Bel-Aire in Wall
  • Charleston Springs Golf Course in Millstone
  • Hominy Hill in Colts Neck
  • Howell Park in Farmingdale
  • Pine Brook in Manalapan
  • Shark River in Neptune

Ocean County has just two courses, one each at the extreme ends of the county. No updated information was available on the Ocean County Parks website as of Thursday morning and the online tee-time system did not show any available times.

Ocean County Parks golf courses

  • Forge Pond in Brick
  • Atlantis in Little Egg Harbor

The decision to open for privately-owned but open-to-the-public courses such as Old Orchard County Club in Eatontown, Pebble Creek Golf Club in Colts Neck and Sea Oaks County Club in Little Egg Harbor is at the discretion of each course. The same goes for private courses.

Demand is clearly high to tee it up. Old Orchard had 70 tee times booked within 40 minutes of the announcement, according to News12 New Jersey.