Golf Course

Wisconsin golf courses can reopen Friday, April 24

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Although parts of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order will remain in effect until May 26, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday, golf courses will be able to reopen on Friday, April 24.

“Were we expecting on the 24th? Probably no. Were we hoping for that? Definitely yes,” Wisconsin PGA Executive Director Joe Stadler said. “We’re thrilled that he (Evers) thought golf could get open … It’s a great start to the season.”

Clubhouses, locker rooms and pro shops will have to stay closed under the governor’s order — and thus payment must be electronic or over the phone — but golfers will be able to swing away again.

Schneider added that allowing golfers to golf in some ways actually helps people follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from the state, advising people to get outside and exercise — rather than cooped up and isolated at home all the time.

“It gets our people out and all of us golfers are able to get out and get exercise,” he said.
Racine Country Club, 2801 Northwestern Ave., has been mowing its greens and fairways about once a week over the past month, Schneider said, so it doesn’t have much extra preparation to do to be ready for reopening on April 24.

Still, Pete Eitel, the head golf pro at Ives Grove Golf Links in Yorkville and president of H&H Fairway Enterprises, which operates the Racine County-owned courses, isn’t expecting golf courses to return to “business as usual” quickly. He noted there will be plenty of golfers who decide to give it up to protect their own safety. It’s also still unclear if golf carts will be allowed to be used; without them, fewer people will golf, and that’s less revenue for courses.

“This has been a tough go for courses around the state. We have a short period of time that we’re able to make our money,” Eitel said. “Losing April is a big factor.”

A petition and some aid in the works

Because of the small-group requirements of golf and minimal person-to-person contact, golfers have been decrying the closure of courses since the initial Safer at Home order went into effect on March 24.

An online petition titled “Let Wisconsin Golf” has more than 66,000 signatures calling on the governor to reopen courses.

The PGA Tour, LPGA and other professional golf associations have also established the Golf Emergency Relief Fund, which offers “short-term financial assistance to certain workers in the golf industry.”

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