Josh Doty has been around Vinton Country Club for six years, and one year as a manager of a hilly course that overlooks the Cedar River. He’s seen his share of ups and downs in the business, but nothing like what COVID-19 has brought to the community.
“I don’t ever recall in my lifetime seeing businesses having to go through things like this,” Doty said. “People, businesses are falling apart because of this coronavirus.”
But Vinton Country Club was not one of those businesses which found themselves struggling amid a state-wide shutdown, but more the contrary. Their doors opened in late March as normal and the course has not looked back ever since.
“We’ve been open every single day to try to serve people to-go meals, allow members to golf,” Doty said. “Up until a month ago, we were open to the public for golf. People were calling from all over the place. We just decided it was safer for everybody not to have the course open to people from Waterloo or wherever.”
While on the course and in the clubhouse, members are required to follow social distancing rules and maintain 50 percent capacity. Outside of immediate family, members stay six feet apart while golfing and only four people may be a group. Members must also use separate carts unless they are family. However, distancing is not a difficult concept in golf as players may hit balls 40 feet from their partner.
“When you’re out on the course, you’re away from the world,” Doty said. “A lot of members spent a lot of their time here for golf and come here to get some activity and socialization in their lives. It’s really nice out here.”
Heather Kalous has been a member of the country club for more than eight years and has enjoyed several rounds of golf over the last two months. An avid golfer growing up and to today, the Vinton-Shellsburg girls track coach has used her free time to run and play golf.
“It’s nice to get outside of the house to exercise and enjoy the game,” Kalous said. “I’m normally really busy with coaching track around this time of year and don’t get out until after the State meet. If I can take a positive away from the season being canceled, it’s more time to golf.
To help prevent the spread of virus between club members, Vinton Country Club provided a hand washing station down by the fourth hole and the holes are sealed shut. Instead, golfers simply put towards a pool foam sticking out from the hole. No one touches the flags. As the state begins to relax mitigation efforts in eastern Iowa, the club’s board will consider future decisions for the course.
“My hope is rather than reopening all at once, we allow members to bring guests,” Doty said. “That’s the only change I know about right now.”
The clubhouse is opened to the public for to-go meals seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. Servers will wear masks and the club will have locally produced masks available for purchase at the clubhouse. On Sunday, the Vinton Country Club board made the decision to allow members to bring guests, but will not fully reopen to the public.
“They are doing a lot of planning and have taken a lot of safety precautions for anyone who stops into the clubhouse,” Kalous said. “They’re planning accordingly and I feel are doing well.”
Vinton Country Club is open from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00p.m. every day of the week. For questions, call the golf course at (319) 472-4052.