MISSOULA — There's a ray of sunshine for these troubled times on the outskirts of Missoula.
It's a little place called Linda Vista Golf Course. Special measures have been taken so that all of us hackers can get outside and enjoy a low-key round.
It falls under that outdoor activities allowance made by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday.
"As long as you're not out there wrestling with your buddies or something like that, you're OK," joked Charles Miller, general manager/PGA professional at Linda Vista.
"Our greens are huge. There's no reason to get too close to anyone. But we're not rebels. Golfers aren't bad-boy types. So if we're told to shut down, we'll shut down."
Miller spent a good part of his Friday figuring out whether he would be allowed to stay open. He tried a small business 1-800 number set up by the governor's office more than a dozen times.
It's like a lot of stuff right now, confusing. Oregon has kept its courses open but Washington state has shut its down. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Linda Vista, the UM course and many others around Missoula will remain open.
"If we're allowed to stay open, you bet we're going to stay open," Miller said. "We have employees we want to pay. We don't want to let any of our employees go. Not everyone likes to hike. Not everyone likes to mountain bike."
Special precautions have been taken by Miller and his crew.
All rakes have been removed from the sand traps. The holes and golf carts are frequently sprayed with a bleach gun. The USGA changed its rule about pulling pins last year, so you don't have to mess with those.
Miller says he'll even open the door for you when you come into the pro shop if he's not busy doing something else.
"Linda Vista has never been this fancy before," he joked. "I know we've never been cleaner out here."
If you've never tried Linda Vista, it's a perfect place for the Everyday Man. Most of the holes are par 3s and you can play 18 for 20 bucks or nine for 15. Veterans and students are allowed to play nine holes for 10 bucks.
If you're not much into walking, be advised it's only one rider per cart right now. But the good news is you don't have to rake any sand traps because the rakes have been removed.
"The only thing you're going to touch on the course is your own stuff," Miller said.
Golfers were super-grateful the course stayed open last weekend when the weather was nice. It's not that great this weekend but Miller already had six Saturday tee time reservations by 11 a.m. Friday. There's a 20-minute interval between tee times, so you don't have to worry about feeling rushed.
"It's a relaxed thing," Miller offered. "There's not much huffing and puffing going on out there."
Thanks, Mr. Miller. We could all use a little less huffing and puffing right now.
Note: Linda Vista is located on Lower Miller Creek Road ... If golf, hiking and biking aren't your speed, you might want to try tennis at Playfair Park. The nets are up and the gates are open. And best of all, it's free.