Both Branch County golf courses reported dozens of players hit the links Sunday and Monday after the governor’s directive opened them up to restricted play.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the change Friday, but rain kept players off the course Saturday.
No carts are allowed. Windy weather did not hamper those who wanted to play.
Bella Vista Manager Alan Brennan said “we’ve had about 100 between members and nonmember so far. We have a few out walking. It’s better than where we were at, but not where we would like to be.”
Joe Drennan, manager at The Coldwater Golf Course said “there were about 80 on Sunday and about 60 (Monday). There are a lot of people hoofing it.”
A few golf carts, the kinds you pull, were availible for rent for $5.
The U.S. Golf Association put out suggested rules to meet social distancing requirements of COVID-19. Both courses have adopted them.
The biggest change is white cups in the holes so they balls don’t go in. They bounce off them and you don’t have to reach inside to retrieve the putt.
Coldwater operator Kevin Wischmeyer posted his version of the new rules on the clubhouse door.
“Your ball is holed out when it hits the cup. If your handicap goes up in the next three weeks, you are a sandbagger,” the posting read.
In addition to no carts, there are no pins or flags to touch. No ball washers. No other amenities where COVID-19 could spread from touch.
Rakes were removed from sand traps. Touching handles could transfer the virus. Clubs can be used to try to smooth out the sand after a shot. Wischmeyer said in many ways the new game is a throw back to golf in the 1920s.
There are no driving ranges to warm up.
“We do not have adequate methods to make sure the balls you touched are sanitized properly. It’s not worth the risk,” Wischmeyer said. He suggested “hit off the first tee until you are happy. That can be your warm up”
“There is sanitizer if you must use the restroom,” Brennan said. “At Bella Vista “we’re kinda of muddling through, making the best of a bad situation.”
Both men wish golfers to be safe and follow rules for social distancing.
Rather than “fore, ” Wischmeyer suggested the new cry on the course be “six feet.”