The freshly mowed greens, the swinging clubs, the golf carts; they’re all signs that spring is finally here and this year more than any other golf is a welcome distraction from the world around us.
While Governor Walz’s recent executive order allows for the opening of public and private golf courses, the guidelines require golfers and golf courses to uphold social distancing practices.
One of the local golf courses that was affected by the executive order was the Dodge Country Club.
Mike Otto, general manager of Dodge Country Club, said they’ve taken a few measures to help golfers stay healthy.
“We have signs posted on hole one and hole ten and it basically specifies stay six feet apart unless you’re with a family member or living in the same household then you can ride together otherwise it’s one person per cart,” he said.
They’re also spacing out the tee times to every 15 minutes to keep some distance between golfing groups.
“I talked to a couple different golf courses and they’re going eight or 10 minutes and I said ‘I’m going to 15 because I want to be as far apart as I possibly can,’” he said. “I will not change 15-minute intervals just to keep those groups spread out a little bit more.”
Otto noted that he and his wife recently played the greens so he knows firsthand how well the 15-minute interval works.
“That 15-minute interval in between was perfect. We never ran into anybody and nobody was behind us pushing us,” he said.
In addition to spacing out golfers, he said he and his staff are doing extra cleaning, including washing and disinfecting all the golf balls.
“Every place that something’s touched, we’re wiping it down immediately,” he said.
Another way they’re keeping golfers healthy is by preventing golfers from touching the same things such as the sticks and the holes.
“The flag sticks stay in the hole. We’ve flipped over the cup and the ball drops down maybe a half-inch,” Otto said.
He added that the general public can call three days ahead for a tee time, while members can call five days ahead.
Typically its first tee time is 7 a.m. and close when it gets dark at night. The grill is pick-up and delivery only and is open until 8 p.m.
Zumbro Valley Golf Course in Mantorville is open from 10a.m. to 6p.m. on weekdays and open from 9a.m. to 6p.m. on weekends.
The Oaks Golf Club in Hayfield is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Director of Golf Operations Michael Hasley said they’ve installed 15-minute intervals between tee times.
He said they’re also limiting golf carts to just one rider unless they live in the same household.
Once golfers are done with their carts, he said he and his staff disinfect each cart after use.
Hasley said the only part of their golf club that is open are the restrooms, which are cleaned regularly.
To limit contact, fees are handled either over the phone or through a window.
Like the Dodge Country Club, the flags are kept in the pin and the cup is basically upside down so golfers don’t have to reach down into the cup.
The Oaks Golf Club’s restaurant offers take-out, but the bar is not open.
Somerby Golf Course is a private golf club in Byron and is open at 8 a.m. and their last tee time is 7 p.m.
Director of Membership Brett Mucheck said there are 10-minute intervals between tee times.
Like the previous golf club, he said they’re limiting golf carts to just one person with the exception of family.
After carts are used, he said all carts are disinfected.
Another similarity with previous golf clubs, Mucheck said, is Somerby is also keeping the pins in the hole permanently and turning the cup upside down so more than half the ball is above the cup line.
He also mentioned that hand sanitizer is available at all restrooms.
In addition, he said the staff sanitizes the restrooms throughout the day.