Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been one of the most proactive state executives during the coronavirus crisis, taking action early and aggressively in an effort to prevent community spread.
On March 23, Whitmer issued an executive order, Executive Order 2020-21, with a stay-at-home order for Michigan residents. For golf courses and golfers, that order created some confusion. After several days of waiting, golf courses were told they had to close. The order also closed a number of additional businesses or parts of businesses that go beyond similar orders in other states.
Following a frustrating and confusing several weeks for many Michigan golfers, Michigan golf courses will be allowed to open again to golfers.
On April 24, Governor Whitmer extended her stay-at-home order through May 15, but she allowed more businesses and services to open, including golf courses.
Golf courses, both public and private, will be required to follow CDC and state guidelines concerning social distancing and removing shared surfaces, like bunker rakes, from the course. Raised cups or similarly modified cups have become commonplace to protect golfers from having to touch flagsticks, which remain in at all times. In Michigan, golfers will only be able to play golf walking. Carts will not be allowed.
Courses were among other businesses — like landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike-repair shops — that can resume services, provided social distancing is followed. Stores selling nonessential supplies can reopen for curbside pickup and delivery.
Private courses began opening to members in mid-April, citing a response from the state’s attorney general. However, a day later, the AG’s office said all courses had to remain closed. In defiance of the order, several clubs continued to open for members. Some even asked golfers not to play holes facing public view to avoid scrutiny. A number of county sheriffs did not enforce the order against private clubs, believing it was not their responsibility or they did not agree with the order.