Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay home, stay safe,” order, some golf courses throughout the state allowed people onto their course, citing physical wellness as their reasoning. Then, on March 27 her office determined that it was not critical infrastructure.
She signed the order in a response to the rapid increase of cases of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan. It has become one of the top states in terms of confirmed cases, and the United States has surpassed China and Italy for being the nation with the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
The Golf Association of Michigan announced Friday it had received confirmation that courses would not be able to stay open or authorize employees to come into work as “critical infrastructure employees,” according to the organization’s website.
The closing of golf courses affects some more than others, but for Chloe Johnson, sophomore at Aquinas and member of the golf team, it meant the end of her season.
“We are done. We don’t have a season anymore,” she said. “It got completely canceled, which sucks.”
While her team still does individual workouts sent out by the coach, and the team holds weekly hangouts via Zoom, having the spring season canceled is a big loss.
“It’s hard. I feel bad for our senior because she’s done and she didn’t get to play her last season of golf,” Johnson said.
“I know it’s hard for all of us, but especially for seniors not being able to play their spring season,” she said, referring to all senior athletes having their athletic careers cut short.
Some golf courses waited to start their season until they received word from the association and the governor’s office. Rammler Golf Course in Sterling Heights was waiting for the word, but made a contingency plan just in case golfers would be allowed on the course.
The course’s general manager, Paul Duda, said that to prevent the spread of COVID-19 the course would take precautions that would limit the amount of contact golfers had with other people. Pans included raising the cup a few inches so the flag would never have to be pulled, taking credit card payments only over the phone, and limiting people to one person per cart.
“We aren’t going to open until we get clarification,” Duda said. “I know there’s a few golf courses open in this area … but we’ve decided not to open until we get the OK.”
To some golfers, the pros of closing courses outweigh the cons. For A.J. Mancuso, this is true.
“I can see how people would be frustrated because golf is not that social of a sport,” he said. “You’re playing with a maximum of four people and it’s pretty wide open and there’s a lot of space between the groups that are playing, but I think if the leaders and decision-makers think it’s the right thing to do, then it’s something I support.”
Because it is a low-impact sport, golf is something people often play well into middle age and beyond. It’s often used for exercise. However, older generations of people, as well as people with underlying health conditions, are most at risk to experience a fatality due to COVID-19.
“We need to look out for our vulnerable population, there’s a lot of conflicting things out in the media about how dangerous is it, how much does it spread,” Mancuso said. “I just think out of an abundance of caution that people should be more considerate of the vulnerable population — people with underlying health problems — and really try to prevent the spread as much as possible.”