Golf courses set to reopen next week under extended Safer at Home

Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 00:19:10-04

DE PERE, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Under Governor Evers' Safer at Home extension, golf courses have some restrictions lifted on them in order to allow golfers to take up their sport once again in Wisconsin. However, there are social distancing measures in place that courses and participants must follow.

Notably, golf carts are prohibited.

Golfers as individuals and in groups must maintain social distancing.

Payment for tee times or other services must be done over the phone or online.

Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.

Restaurants located at the facilities may open for curbside or takeout service.

Tee times must be scheduled with space in between to avoid clusters forming at any hole on the course.

Maintenance workers, landscapers and groundskeepers are not devoid of following social distancing guidelines.

Simulators, practice facilities, driving ranges and mini golf are not allowed to reopen at this time.

Ron Demske, co-owner of Hilly Haven Golf Course in De Pere, is elated to have some foot traffic back on their course as springtime approaches.

"You know as the weather got nice, we love to have our customers out here getting some exercise and getting some fresh air," Demske said. "Improve their mental health a little bit, and there's no better place to social distance than a golf course."

"We're going to do 15-minute tee times to really extend that out, so that's half the amount of tee times we normally have," Demske said. "No golf carts allowed on the course. On the cups themselves on the green, we're going to be plugging that so the ball can't fall in the cup, so nobody grabs the flag stick to pull it out."

While the course has been silent for three weeks, Hilly Haven staff have been busy with course upkeep.

"We have to maintain this thing whether there are people on it or not, and it's expensive," Demske said. "We've been aerating greens and re-sodding turfs that was disrupted last fall with the wet fall and during the winter. We've taken down 50 trees so far that had some damage. Our crew has been out there the last three works just working their butts off."

Hilly Haven has kept all of their full-time staff on payroll, and began selling fish fry to pick up curbside at the course on Fridays in order to bring some of their part-time employees back in the building. Depending on success, they're looking to continue and expand the menu.