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Duncan Park closes due to coronavirus outbreak

NATCHEZ — Late Tuesday afternoon, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell announced the additional closings of several city properties, including the Duncan Park Tennis Pro Shop and the Duncan Park Golf Pro Shop, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Yet earlier in the day, Duncan Park supervisor of tennis Henry Harris and Duncan Park golf course superintendent Greg Brooking found out about the closing in very different ways.

“(Recreation) director Faye Minor came down to the shop and said that the tennis shop and the golf shop would be closed due to the virus,” Harris said.

Brooking said Minor called him at 12:30 p.m. on March 17.

“We already had some players who had teed off at 9 a.m. We waited for them to get in,” Brooking said. “We had to allow players to finish. We got the last player off the course at 1:30 p.m.”

No, there was not a tournament going on at the Duncan Park Golf Course Tuesday morning. Brooking said it was just regular daily play.

“All they closed was the business side of the golf course. They didn’t stop play,” Brooking said. “Whoever put it together, they didn’t’ want any close contact with each other. I think there was sound reasoning for what they did.”

Neither Harris nor Brooking said they did not know how long their shops would be closed, but they will likely be closed through most if not all of April.

When asked about his reaction to the closings, Harris said, “I’d rather to be safe than to be sorry.”

Brooking said he wasn’t surprised by the closing, but he added, “I think it’s a drastic action to shut down the golf course. But I think they did the right thing. I don’t like my business being shut down, but I’m proud of them. The mayor cares more about the people than about the business.”

Several local tournaments in both tennis and golf will be affected by these closings.

“We have three (tennis) tournaments canceled,” Harris said. “The biggest one is South State, which has been here for the last eight years. Natchez High was going to host the district tournament. Cathedral was going to host South State. The Cancer Tournament is the first week of June, so that’s too far out. The USTA (United States Tennis Association) had to cancel all league play until the end of next month.”

Natchez High School’s tennis team was scheduled to host the MHSAA Region 6-5A Tournament on April 7. Cathedral High School and Adams County Christian School’s tennis teams were scheduled to co-host the MAIS District 4-4A Tournament on April 20.

“We’ve gotten in touch with the Joe Fortunato (Celebrity Golf Classic officials). That’s not until May 3. They’re wanting to know if that’s going to be postponed,” Brooking said. “That’s not until May 3. That’s about 50 days from now.

“A sorority tournament that was to be on the second Saturday in April is postponed. The Chamber of Commerce is the first Friday in April. That has been postponed. Natchez High is the only member out here. They will not have any tournaments played until the pro shop opens back up.”

Despite the closings resulting in these postponements and cancellations, both Harris and Brooking will still be hard at work.

“Right now, I’m blowing pollen off the court. Twice a day you have to blow the pollen off the courts, even when they’re not playing,” Harris said.

Brooking said he still has to maintain the golf course.

“So, essentially, it’s business as usual,” Brooking said. “I don’t have to worry about payroll. I don’t have to worry about time sheets. I don’t have to worry about scheduling. Just the maintenance of the golf course. We don’t have to cater to the players.”

Harris added, “It kind of bother me a little bit” that no tournaments will be played for the foreseeable future.