Golf community hopes "non-essential" ban on courses will be lifted

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 19:59:37-04

As of Friday evening, Wisconsin is one of only 11 states to deem golf courses as "non-essential" businesses - meaning courses in the state are closed until at least April 24, when the "Safer at Home" order expires.

Rob Jansen, the executive director of the Wisconsin State Golf Association, is hoping to reverse that decision.

"We think we've put together some good guidelines as to where golf would pose no public health risk whatsoever," he said.

Jansen said the WSGA has sent letters to Governor Evers' office, but has not heard directly back.

The state's only initial acknowledgment was in an online FAQ, that simply stated golf courses were not essential businesses.

In a press briefing Friday afternoon, the state said golf courses are classified as "places of amusement or entertainment" - the same category as movie theaters and arcades - and must remain closed to "minimize contact and bend the curve."

The closure will have an impact on business. The WSGA is especially concerned for small golf courses.

"Most courses are quintessential small businesses and if they can't bring in any revenue that's going to pose many challenges," Jansen said. "(It will) lead to a lot of revenue loss. Lead to a lot of job loss."

"With the status of a lot of smaller courses... you just hope everyone can survive this," added Dave Marach, the superintendent of Northbrook Golf and Grill in Luxemburg, said.

Marach said Northbrook was hoping for an earlier-than-normal opening this year. Now, they're bracing for an impact on the bottom line.

"What (Governor Evers) signed is very important," he said. "Is it going to impact the golf industry? By all means yes."

During the shutown, course management can still 'maintain' the course, which Marach said is crucial to business.

"If you're gone for a month or longer, you have to come back and get everything back in shape to the best condition possible," he said. "That in the long run is just going to cost more money."

The main focus remains getting players back on the course, which Jansen said could be a positive for all.

"We feel since golf can be played safely it's also taking the opportunity for people to get outside, stay active and do something that they enjoy that can be done safely and those options are very limited right now so we think golf can be a positive thing during this health crisis," he said.