Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker has been a proactive governor during the crisis, issuing early orders to close bars and restaurants after partygoers were not heeding calls to avoid public mass gatherings.
Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order on March 21, which was originally to run through April 7, requiring non-essential businesses to close and citizens to stay at home unless they had to go obtain emergency services, get food or get light exercise. Golf courses were considered non-essential in the initial offer, and courses throughout the state took that to mean they had to close — even after a day of some confusion in interpreting the order.
However, Illinois golf courses can once again open thanks to changes made by Governor Pritzker.
In a new order that will run from May 1-30, golf courses will be allowed to open again. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has set guidelines that courses, both public and private, must adhere to in order to remain open. Among the rules, players with COVID-19 or players with a case in their household cannot play; all players must walk and either carry or push their bag; tee times are only in twosomes; players must bring their own equipment and handle their own things during a round; players are encouraged to use hand sanitizer before and after the round; tee times must be at least 15 minutes apart.
Practice facilities, including driving ranges and practice greens, are closed. Beverage and snack carts are prohibited.
In states where golf courses remain open, courses have been required to close gathering spaces, like clubhouses, locker rooms, lounges and the like. Golfers have been required to leave quickly after their rounds. Courses have taken precautions to remove shared surfaces like bunker rakes, ball washers and water coolers. Tee times have been spaced out, and golfers are required to observe social distancing guidelines. Several states have required golfers to walk, not allowing the use of carts. In some county-level orders, players have been required to wear masks or face coverings while they play.
This is great news for golfers in Illinois, as the state becomes to third to allow golf courses to re-open after being closed for several weeks. Wisconsin, which re-opens April 24, and Minnesota have announced a reversal of previous closures.