SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gary Gossett is the pickleball ambassador in Simi Valley.
"It’s a little whiffle ball and a graphite paddle and it’s been around since 1965," Gossett said.
What You Need To Know
- Only singles pickleball or tennis matches are allowed in L.A. County
- Team sports such as basketball, football, and soccer are still not permitted
- At golf courses, ball washers, benches, and rakes have been removed
- The driving range is open but putting greens remain closed
He has been playing the game for about seven years and is one of roughly 400 pickleball players in town. Players were widely impacted when the courts were locked up.
"A lot of people were devastated. I was getting a lot of phone calls. I was getting a lot of text messages, emails," Gossett said.
Many are now thrilled to be back playing their favorite game on the courts, which re-opened a little more than a month ago at Lemon Park in Ventura County. However, with the re-opening came some new rules, including staying at least six feet apart.
"We came up with an idea that if we only had four people on the court at any given time, it would be much safer than allowing groups," Gossett said.
It is something especially notable since pickleball has become a popular game for seniors, who are at a higher risk of death from COVID-19.
"We wash the balls after each game. We wash our hands. We wash our paddles," Gossett said.
Those who aren’t on the court must wait their turn outside the gate. L.A. County re-opened its courts a couple weeks ago under slightly more stringent rules, only allowing for single play. The reopening brought more outsiders to Simi Valley, which worried Gossett at first.
"Everyone’s been really good at self-policing, and I think that’s how we’re going to get through this," he said.
Elsewhere in Lemon Park, basketball courts were still closed and team sports are now allowed to maintain physical distancing rules. The rims were removed from the backboards, but that didn’t stop Nick Kaprelian and his son, 4-year-old Scott, from turning it into a little skate park.
"We just started to learn how to skateboard this week though, so we started on Monday. We knew the rims weren’t up, so this was a good place to do it," Kaprelian said.
At Simi Hills Public Golf Course, Manager Brian Reed says things such as ball washers and benches and rakes in the bunkers have all been removed to eliminate as many common touch areas as possible. Tee times are also every 10 minutes, instead of 8 minutes to allow for better spacing on the golf course between players. The course opened toward the end of April.
"It was an absolute madhouse for about the three weeks until L.A. opened. Once L.A. opened their courses, it diminished a little bit," Reed said.
Golf carts are still single rider only and there were plenty of people using push carts.
"The regular flag sticks are in the hole, but there’s a little piece of pool noodle at the bottom of the cup that keeps the ball from going all the way in that way it’s easy to retrieve," Reed said.
In L.A County, the driving range is open, but putting greens remain closed.