Minnesota golf leaders seek state approval to allow course maintenance during coronavirus shutdown

Even though Minnesota golf courses are closed by executive order, Minnesota golf industry leaders have asked Gov. Tim Walz to allow courses to do maintenance until they can open.

According to the Minnesota Golf Association, only Michigan, Minnesota and Alaska courses are not allowed to perform course maintenance because of restrictions ordered during the coronavirus pandemic (Alaska’s season hasn’t started yet). Walz’s “stay at home” order deems Minnesota golf clubs a nonessential business.

Neighboring Wisconsin courses have been closed by a similar stay-at-home order, but its courses — such as Troy Burne, just across the St. Croix river in Hudson — are being allowed to maintain courses at an important time when they transition from winter.

“The longer it goes in this growing season without care is not good for the turf and not good for the course,” Minnesota Golf Association CEO Tom Ryan said.

Minnesota golf clubs were listed among restaurants, bars and many other businesses called “other places of public accommodation” that were ordered to close until May. The stay-at-home order is due to end April 10.

In Brooklyn Park, Edinburgh USA Golf Course is open for walkers, but no-golfing signs on holes state violators are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Ryan said golf industry executives understand “the hundreds, if not thousands” of requests and decisions that face Walz and his administration. He said they “appreciate” and “respect” such a difficult situation.

Outdoor activities such as walking, running, hiking, cycling and fishing are allowed with proper social-distancing measures. But there is a ban on nonessential travel as well. Some Minnesota golfers drove to northern Iowa to play last weekend because Minnesota courses were closed.

“We need to do more work, too; this is an ever-evolving situation,” Walz said at his daily news briefing Thursday. “I want to acknowledge the situation around golf: I have to keep people functioning the best they can and stay sane. I know if golf is your passion, please know we’re trying to evolve these things. I make these decisions on the best health guidance given to me, but also measuring it against the sustainability of a stay-at-home order that puts a lot of pressure on people.

“We’re trying to clarify. There will never be a pure black and white … We’ve got to adapt. For all those folks especially with golf, I’m trying to figure this out. If this is going to last a while, if two can go out and not be beside each other, we maybe need to figure that out. I’m asking my folks to do that.”

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