Michigan golf courses are finally able to re-open after being classified as nonessential businesses during the state-mandated lockdown because of the coronavirus.


Golf courses can be open as long as they follow social distancing guidelines and don’t allow the use of golf carts and other common-use items like sand trap rakes. Golfers must walk courses until it is deemed safe to begin using carts again, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on April 24.


All public courses, effective immediately after Whitmer’s address, were allowed to open, in addition to several other outdoor activities — with the caveat that strict social distancing must be enforced. People are required to maintain at least a six-foot distance from others while out in public.


Some private courses remained open during the lockdown, interpreting their courses as private property unaffected by the lockdown.


Public golf courses around the country were forced to close during the lock down, which began on March 23, causing concern about too-tight restrictions and the financial impact on courses.


"It is frustrating because we feel golf is a social-distancing sport," Diamond Springs Golf Course’s Mike Schrotenboer told The Sentinel on April 18, before the lifted restrictions. "We do want to respect the stay at home, stay safe — it’s just frustrating when it’s an outdoor activity people can enjoy and get some exercise, so we take a lot of phone calls wondering when we’re going to open and how things are going, what’s it looking like, are we maintaining the course. That’s a big question. We’re maintaining business as usual, we just can’t let the customers enjoy it."


Other restrictions lifted include motorized boating, as long the boats’ occupants are people from the same household. Landscaping companies, lawn service companies, plant shops and bike repair places can all resume operation. Bigger retailers also no longer have to close off sections of their stores. People are now allowed to travel to and from vacation homes, but Whitmer warned to do so only if absolutely essential.


"Please remember that If you choose to go to the golf course, take the boat out or (engage) your lawn care service, please stay safe and do everything you can to protect yourself and others," Whitmer said.


On April 27, the order was updated to require people to wear face-coverings in enclosed public spaces.


— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Beau Troutman at btroutman@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @BVTroutman.