The Harbour Town Lighthouse is framed between scaffolding left in disarray for the mid-April RBC Heritage on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, near the 18th tee of Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Photo by Drew Martin

SC - Golf courses, considered lifeblood to Hilton Head, furlough hundreds due to coronavirus

April, typically the busiest month of the year for Hilton Head Island’s golf courses — an industry that brings in $2.59 billion statewide — has become financially unrecoverable for most courses.

The hallmark industry, which has seen layoffs or furloughs for hundreds of employees on the island, is facing an existential crisis. Courses continue to operate, but with skeletal staff. Course managers say golf is an essential service, thus allowing them to remain open, but without caddies, starters or rangers, locker rooms or dine-in meals at the clubhouse.

Nearly all tourists have stopped coming to Hilton Head Island as the spots many of them come from — Ohio and New York, for example — have discouraged travel, and families have canceled vacations in favor of staying home and avoiding exposure to the coronavirus.

Island residents have pressured officials with the Town of Hilton Head Island to limit short-term rentals during the pandemic, and most rental companies and hotels have agreed to stop taking new reservations through the end of April.
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With those canceled vacations and holiday retreats come canceled rounds of golf and dinner reservations at the clubs.

By state decree, all restaurants on Hilton Head Island are closed to dine-in service, so vacationers have nowhere to eat. But golf courses, which have managed to stay open during the shutdown, also feel that sting.

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