The Maui News –
by Robert Collias –
Barry Helle has worked in a quiet office since July 6, but he will welcome the return to louder, more normal times in a few weeks.
The Wailea Golf Club announced Wednesday that the Wailea Blue Course will reopen on Dec. 20. Helle, the general manager of the Blue Course, could not be happier.
“It’s been quite a bit different, I’ve been coming to work every day,” Helle said. “It’s a lot quieter environment than I’m used to or what I like, but there has been some projects that I have been doing. The biggest one is we’re in the midst of changing our reservations and point-of-sale software to a whole new system.
“It will be up and running by the time we open the doors on the 20th.”
After emergency public health orders temporarily shuttered golf courses in the spring, the 18-hole course initially reopened in early May, but closed again on July 6 due to extremely difficult economic conditions brought about by the pandemic.
Helle has not stopped working as the protocols change often to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Golfers are now allowed to ride two per cart, but must wear a face mask until they reach the first tee.
“A lot of it has just been planning and gearing up to what it’s going to be like to run the golf course in this COVID era,” Helle said. “A lot of it has to do with extra cleaning of the golf cart and just addressing the overall sanitation issues.”
Flagsticks are left in the hole and players may choose to play out of a bunker or lift and place their ball out of the bunker because there are no rakes to reshape the bunkers after previous play.
“These are all protocols that have come down from the United States Golf Association and been adopted by pretty much all of the golf courses here in Hawaii,” Helle said.
The Blue maintenance staff has taken advantage of the break.
“I think the fairways and the greens are going to be pretty much the way we left it, which were in really good shape,” Helle said. “One thing that we’ve done, we’ve done some heavy maintenance on the fairways and greens, but they’ve pretty much recovered.
“We did it earlier to give it time to recover … really taking it down and letting it grow back nice and lush.”
It is not an opportunity the course was looking for, but nonetheless it was an opportunity.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities you normally wouldn’t get,” Helle said. “But our maintenance crew and our supervisor did a great job of coming up with the plan to take advantage and do things that you normally couldn’t do if you were operating.”
Now, with Maui tourism beginning to revive, the golf club determined it was time to reopen the Blue.
“We are very excited — and deeply grateful — to be at this point,” Helle said in a news release. “We always said we were going to reopen when the economy got a little better, we just didn’t know exactly when that would be. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming back staff members and loyal customers.”
For more information about green fees, COVID-19 policies and online reservations, visit waileagolf.com or call the Blue Course pro shop at 879-2530.