Michigan private golf clubs open to member play after attorney general interpretation, forced closed the next day
Golf Culture

Michigan private golf clubs open to member play after attorney general interpretation, forced closed the next day

Michigan golf courses have been closed for nearly three weeks, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer determined golf courses were non-essential under her stay-at-home order and would be required to close.

Weeks later in a news conference updating citizens on the state's efforts against coronavirus, Whitmer reiterated she does not believe Michiganders need to be playing golf and listed some reasons why, some of which were decried by Michigan golfers and course owners. The Golf Association of Michigan has appealed to the governor in hopes she may change her mind and decide golf courses can operate, offering a respite for safe outdoor exercise for players.

On Monday, however, a private club in Michigan announced plans to re-open, citing guidance from the state attorney general.

Great Oaks Country Club communicated with its members, saying the club would re-open for all member play on April 14, quoting Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is attributed a statement in the email to Great Oaks members as having said, "In the case of a private golf course where member fees are already paid, a member can play alone or with someone else provided they maintain social distancing requirements."

The club, therefore, elected to allow all members to play at the club with caveats. Golf would have to play either by themselves or with a partner. The players would have to walk. There would be no bag drop, as has become commonplace throughout the country's courses that have remained open. Common facilities, including practice areas, locker rooms and the clubhouse, would remain closed. Flagsticks couldn't be touched, and shared surfaces, like bunker rakes, would be removed. Golfers would have to leave immediately after their round.

However, a day later, the attorney general said all golf courses in the state must remain closed.

"NO golf course can be open. It’s very clear in the Governor’s Executive Order," said  Rossman-McKinney in an email to Golf News Net. "What some private clubs have condoned is allowing what must be their members to use the course, even though nothing is open. Even if that is occurring social distancing must be practiced – which does not appear to be the case based on the various pictures of golfers I have seen.”

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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