Deemed “one of the finest golf courses in the South,” Gordon Lakes Golf Course is better than ever, according to Steve Acevedo.“I couldn’t wait to get back out here,” said Acevedo, Army retiree and avid golfer.Like most services and amenities, Gordon Lakes Golf Course had temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite wishing it could have remained open during those several weeks, Acevedo agrees with the course’s manager when he says that a lot of good came out of its closure.Since reopening June 12, Aaron Stevens, Gordon Lakes Golf Club manager, has been flooded with positive reactions regarding the course from patrons who golfed on opening weekend.“The feedback has been out of this world,” Stevens said.The reopening would not have been possible without Stevens and a dedicated staff.“The course is in pristine condition as the course personnel have been caring for the course throughout the shutdown,” added Craig Larsen, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.A majority of feedback has centered on the golf course’s appearance, which received special treatment that Stevens said would have been difficult to perform had the course remained open. An extremely wet winter season left parts of the course looking subpar, but thanks to the closure, maintenance crews were able to get it under control.“Maintenance was struggling with getting the weeds out – you couldn’t even get our machines out on the course without sinking in the mud,” Stevens recalled. “During the closure, maintenance was able to airify the greens … and now that we’re open, they’re already completely healed.”Furthermore, Stevens and staff were able to get ahead of training requirements, which enabled them to devote more time to the course and its patrons now that it’s open. And although beautification and maintenance were of utmost importance, the No. 1 priority is – and will remain – safety of everyone.“The COVID-19 mitigation measures that the staff has in place will keep folks as safe as possible, while not being too cumbersome,” Larsen said.Upon arrival at the clubhouse, patrons must undergo a COVID-19 screening that includes a series of questions and temperature taken. Everyone must wear a mask when within 6 feet of anyone, and only two guests may be inside the clubhouse at one time. Only contactless payment (by credit/debit card) will be accepted. Tee times have been staggered at 10-minute intervals, and only one golfer per golf cart is permitted.“Getting those tee times upfront helps us control the tee boxes and we can send people off different nines at the same time,” Stevens said. “It helps us get the flow a little better.”Bunker rakes and sand/water bottles have been removed from the course. Patrons may bring their own water bottles. Coolers and ice are available upon request.The course is currently open Friday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the Pro Shop closing at 5 p.m. Patrons should call 706-834-8822 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to book a tee time.Whether you’re an avid golfer like Acevedo or looking to get into the sport, Larsen encourages everyone to get outside.“This is a great time to either re-engage your golf game or learn to play,” Larsen said. “You won’t find a better military course, and the staff is here to ensure your golfing experience is the best it can possibly be.”Acevedo agreed.“Even if you don’t want to play golf, this is a fantastic place to just sit ... it’s serene.”Meet the managerAaron Stevens is a Kansas native and Army Veteran with a passion for golf and no intentions of moving back to the Midwest.“I love it here,” he said. “It’s a great place to be.”Stevens joined the Fort Gordon team in January. Prior to accepting the Gordon Lakes Golf Club manager position, Stevens worked as a lead assistant golf professional at Highlands Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina. He received his bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in professional golf management from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and received his PGA Class A in 2016.Between summer internships and full-time positions, Stevens has worked at roughly eight different golf courses, but none of them are quite like Gordon Lakes Golf Course.“The golfers and the members here play together, there are lots of men’s groups, the ladies group here is fantastic – it’s just a great culture,” he said. “There are lots of golfers that love to play and they’ll play with anybody, so that’s been a really good thing.”