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File / The Outlook Lakewinds Golf Course has made some changes and is taking extra precautions but is still open to the public.

Being cooped up can be a bad thing for people’s mental and physical health.

Add onto that the fearfulness and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, and it’s downright stressful for many folks.

When many feel stress, exercise and getting outdoors is a release for that and there are still options, even locally.

Although the sports world has been shut down indefinitely because of the coronavirus, there is certainly one outlet that’s still available.

Lakewinds Golf Course has remained open and running and will do so as long as it can.

“This whole thing is stressful and this allows people to get out,” Lakewinds manager Matthew Keel said. “I do believe that as long as we’re able to stay open, this somewhat helps ease the minds of people and the stress of what’s going on. But it’s our responsibility to do what we can to keep it to limited contact and make sure we’re staying up to date on the procedures on what we need to do.”

Keel said he and Alexander City Parks and Recreation Department director Sonny Wilson meet each morning to communicate about any new developments.

So far, the staff at Lakewinds has implemented several changes, mostly geared toward golfers not touching things.

The bunker rakes have been taken off the course as well as the putting practice green flags. There are no longer water coolers available and Lakewinds has covered its ball washers.

“Basically we’re doing anything on the course that limits activities as far as hand contact,” Keel said.

Although some courses have enacted a limit of one person per golf cart, Lakewinds has not instilled that rule. However, if golfers prefer to ride one person per cart, the staff will do whatever it can to accommodate that request. 

The inside of the pro shop has also been shut down and the restroom facilities are limited to one person at a time. Folks can pay for their holes and whatever else they need through the window on the Lakewinds deck.

“As far as maintenance, we’re doing everything by the hour,” Keel said. “We’re having our maintenance staff wipe down all flag sticks with Clorox and Lysol. We do ask members to putt with the flag sticks in, but that is a hard habit to break so we’re just making sure to clean them. After each cart that comes in, we’re constantly clean it and taking all the precautions we can.”

Keel said there has been a downturn in business over the last week, especially for regular groups of older folks who are choosing to stay indoors instead.

“It has hurt us but we’re still open and we’re doing what we can to try to stay open until there comes a day that we have to shut down,” Keel said.

Although the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex has shut down all its buildings, playgrounds and ballfields, the park also remains open so parents — among others — can have a place to bring their kids to get some fresh air. 

Wilson did say the Sportplex is limiting groups to five or fewer but the field next to the softball fields is still available for play in those small groups.

“We’re trying to encourage them to come out but just to keep to that 6-foot rule and be in small groups,” Wilson said. “I know the kids are tired of sitting around, so we’re trying to keep it open as we can even if all the buildings are closed.”  

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.