Golf courses reopen — cautiously

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Lake Windsor Country Club

Gov. Tony Evers extended the Wisconsin stay-at-home order until May 26, with regulations loosening for some non-essential businesses. Along with arts and crafts stores, libraries and lawn cares services, public and private golf courses reopened starting at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24. 

According to Gov. Evers’ Emergency Order #28 released on April 16, golf courses may reopen under the following restrictions:

  • The use of golf carts is prohibited. 
  • Social Distancing Requirements must be observed at all times, unless the players reside in the same living unit or household. 
  • All tee times and payments must be made in advance online or by phone. 
  • Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed. Any restaurant or bar facility may remain open for curbside pick-up or delivery.
  • Tee times must be spaced to avoid multiple foursomes from clustering or gathering at any stage of the course. 
  • Driving ranges and miniature golf must remain closed.

Scott Mowatt, the PGA Director of Golf at Lake Windsor Country Club in the village of Windsor, said everything was hectic as they were getting ready to reopen on Friday. Mowatt expects to be busy throughout the weekend and into next week, judging by the reservations already made. 

“We’re happy about reopening,” Mowatt said. “Obviously, we wish that we could have golf carts going just because it makes it hard on some of our older members, or people that can’t really walk a golf course.”

Along with the state regulations, Lake Windsor is also taking some of their own precautions in order to keep their golfers and staff safe, such as removing items on the course that people would normally touch (cups, bunker rake and ball washers) in hopes of avoiding the spread of the novel coronavirus. There will also be a head golf pro and assistants by the first tee giving directions to golfers on how to properly handle themselves on the course -- no high fives, not getting too close.

“This is a baby step and we don’t want it to go away,” Mowatt said. “Our biggest fear is that we get shut down again. We’re just hoping that all the other golf courses are taking the same measures that we are to keep people safe and hopefully, if we can continue to do that, then we’ll continue to be open throughout the year.”

Despite the restrictions on the golf course, Mowatt suspects that revenue will be fine this year, but he was more concerned about the banquet side of their business. Lake Windsor is doing the best they can to accommodate the situation by postponing weddings, banquets and other events until later in the year, but they are concerned about the hit they will take this year. 

“Obviously, this is going to be a major hit on a lot of small businesses,” Mowatt said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to control our costs this year. Obviously, we’d love to be completely back open, but we understand what’s going on, and we just want people to be safe.”

Golf courses reopening is a win for many, but while businesses are slowly starting to open back up, life is still far from being back to ‘normal’. 

“We just take it day by day,” Mowatt said.

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