Free, discounted rounds of golf offer a way to beat the quarantine blues

A golf course is a place where someone can go outside for a breath of fresh air and find peace … while adhering to social distancing, of course.

During these stressful coronavirus times, that may be as important as ever.

Tim McManus, co-owner of Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, recognized that one day last week while golfing with his son at the course. “I thought with everything going on, it would be great if more and more people could get outside and have some fun,” he said.

An idea was born.

Now Cedars is offering free golf Monday through Friday through April 15.

“We don’t want to undermine what our officials are doing,” the other co-owner, Paul Pawlowski, said. “We want to keep people safe and at proper distances. We all need a break.”

Pawlowski said players don’t even need to check in at the clubhouse, just walk onto the course and play. All the owners ask is that they play by the rules of golf.

Cedars has been described as a North Fork gem. “It’s a special place,” Pawlowski said of the first course he ever played on as a youngster.

The par-3, nine-hole course has hole lengths between 100 and 175 yards. The club caters to young golfers, with a kids’ program. It hosts junior camps and twice in the last four years has been reserved for graduation parties, said McManus. “Cedars is where you learn to play and get to love the game and keep coming back for 50 years, 60 years,” he said.

In addition, Cedars has “probably the largest women’s league in the country,” said Pawlowski.

McManus and Pawlowski bought the club five years ago, with the aim of making it a friendly, fun place to be. “Fun and casual” were the words McManus used to describe Cedars. “That’s what we tried to do from the start, make sure it’s a place that nobody is ever intimidated about going” to.

Pace of play isn’t a problem at Cedars. Because it has only nine holes, someone can play a round of golf in an hour.

A round of golf at Cedars typically costs $13 to $15.

Open year-round, Cedars began offering free golf last week. Pawlowski said there were about 30 people on the course Saturday.

“For my partner and I, when we bought Cedars, it wasn’t about money,” Pawlowski said. “Obviously, we have to charge to keep the place nice and maintain, but what we’re doing now is why we bought it.”

Meanwhile, golfers looking for a different kind of course for a momentary escape from coronavirus talk can find it at Island’s End Golf & Country Club in Greenport. Island’s End is taking off $5 on rounds (typically priced at $49 for weekdays and $59 Friday through Sunday, including a cart) through March 31, said Bill Fish, the club’s general manager and head pro.

Island’s End, which opened for the season Friday, is an 18-hole course, covering 6,700 yards, with four selections of tee boxes. Along with the fairways, water hazards and sand traps are some nice views of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut coastline.

Open to the public, Island’s End offers memberships, golf outings for groups, a grass driving range and a putting and chipping area. Fish said the course is in the best condition it has been in in the past decade.

“Business-wise, it’s still slow going at this time of the year, so nothing’s really out of the ordinary yet,” said Fish.

The club has a restaurant that usually opens in April. However, with the coronavirus concern, there are uncertainties about what the future may bring.

“We don’t know how we’re going to be affected,” said Fish.

Asked if he was concerned, he replied: “Absolutely, we’re definitely concerned, especially with the gathering of groups less than 50. Our outings usually have a hundred players. If this goes into May, we’re going to have to rethink our module.”

For those who want to get away from things — or just get outside — for a short while, golf could be a good stress reliever.

“It depends on who you’re playing with,” Fish cracked. “A leisurely round of golf, there’s nothing better. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.”