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Golf at LPCC hasn't missed a beat during pandemic

Kevin Mays • Jun 8, 2020 at 10:00 AM

BIG STONE GAP — The father-son duo of Ron and Mike McCall won the Lonesome Pine Country Club Member-Member golf tournament over the weekend.

The McCalls have won tournaments, together and individually, in the past. But this one was a little different.

This tournament was the first club event at LPCC since the coronavirus pandemic started in the winter months.

The club, nestled in the picturesque mountains of Wise County’s Powell Valley area, never shut down because of the virus. And membership even increased slightly over the past few months, LPCC General Manager and Club Pro Chris Stacy said.

“It gives folks something to do when there’s not a lot of other things they can do. People are wanting to do something to stay active and enjoy.” Stacy said. “We hope the interest will continue even when other things start to open back up.

“This virus is a terrible thing in so many ways. But it’s not hurt Lonesome Pine.”

FOLLOWING THE RULES

Stacy said the LPCC staff has been careful to follow all of the government guidelines regarding social distancing and cleanliness.

“We’ve done everything as far as social distancing and sanitizing carts after each use, wiping down door knobs and making sure everything is kept clean,” he said.

The field for the member-member tournament, conducted Saturday and Sunday, was full but limited to fewer participants than in the past. Only one golfer was allowed to a cart — two if they were family members — and 24 teams — 48 golfers — took part in the tournament.

SCHEDULE CHANGE

The cart rule isn’t the course’s only change during this trying time.

Foam floaters were installed in each hole so the ball can’t sink to the bottom of the cup and can be easily retrieved by the golfer without touching the cup.

There also are no rakes in the sand traps to smooth the sand.

The new rules may have changed the way golfers play the game, but everyone has adapted well, Stacy said.

Off the course, meanwhile, there currently isn’t an operating restaurant at the club. Stacy said he hopes the restaurant will be open again once Virginia enters Phase III of its reopening plan from the pandemic.

No one is sure when that will happen.

Waiting for that time is one of the main reasons Stacy and his staff moved the club’s Lonesome Pine Member-Guest tournament from next weekend to late August.

“Hopefully, maybe, things will be calmed down a little more by then,” he said.

The member-member event is more of the standard type of golf tournament where players simply show up and play, Stacy said. The member- guest tournament is not just about golf.

“It’s more social,” he said. “There’s a party and dinner and more of a social gathering thing as well as the golf tournament.”

Current social distancing restraints made a later date a better time for the event, Stacy said.

INVITATIONAL STILL IN JULY

LPCC’s biggest golf event of the year is still on schedule.

The prestigious Lonesome Pine Invitational will be held July 18-19. This year marks the 89th in a row for the event, the longest continuously running golf tournament in the Mountain Empire region.

Stacy said the Tri-Cities PGA event slated for July 6 will also be played as scheduled.

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