PORTLAND, CT (WFSB) - Golf has engineered a comeback this summer after courses had extended closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, people of all skill levels have been flocking to the Portland West golf course to escape being cooped up inside.

Donna Bonin of Middletown described the location as her happy place.  She said she stayed sane during the coronavirus crisis by hitting the links.

“It’s just great to get out get some fresh air and do something,” Bonin said.

She said she and her friends have plenty of company.

Shawn Kelley, who is a co-owner of the Portland West golf course, said about 20 percent more golfers have been teeing off this summer compared to last season. He said it's almost like therapy.

“It was good it was good for everybody I think to get out here get a little fresh air,” Kelley said. “We even had a lot of people call and ask if they could just walk with the group that was playing golf.”

“It takes your mind off everything,” said Kim Francis of Glastonbury. “You just have to keep your mind on that ball.”

Golfers said they're able to relax in large part because of a bunch of COVID-19-related safety precautions.

“I’ve been to a couple golf courses and there’s no issues at all,” Bonin said. “I feel totally at ease.”

At Portland West, Kelley's team placed signs reminding people to practice social distancing throughout the course and removed most on-course equipment like sand trap rakes.

Staffers also put Styrofoam in the holes so players don't have to reach all the way down into the cup. They limited the number of people allowed on carts and in the pro shop, and of course, employees disinfect everything multiple times a day.

“I think we’ve really fallen into the groove now,” Kelley said. “I think people are starting to get used to the protocols.”

Bonin said she just wished the sport was as easy as following the new guidelines.

“It’s a nice walk sometimes spoiled by a bad shot or two, but that’s ok,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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