Petition to keep golf courses open during ‘stay at home’ order gains thousands of signatures

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Most golf courses are closed as part of the ‘stay at home’ order, but many Minnesotans argue it’s an activity that should be allowed.

"I’d be out playing today, for sure," said Tom Moore, who lives in Woodbury.

Not many golfers know when they can tee off next because Governor Tim Walz’s ‘stay at home’ order includes country clubs. But many in the industry are pushing back.

"Now when you tell them the forecast is 60 and sunny next week but you’re stuck inside it’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that hurts,’" said John Potter, who started a petition to open golf courses.

Potter is the director of instruction at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury. He started a petition to open courses during this order, and it generated about 15,000 signatures in less than two days.

"The response overhwhelmingly in the golf community has been there are ways to do this safely and I think there are ways to do this safely," Potter said.

Some of those social distancing ideas include closing pro shops, contactless payment, taking out the pins from greens, removing rakes and water coolers, and either restricting power carts or sanitizing them after each use.

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"With this virus going around we can obviously maintain safe distances, where I hit the ball, especially, no one goes," Moore said.

Potter worries keeping them closed is worst case scenario, and many courses could close for good.

On Friday afternoon, Walz talked about how he is open to the idea of keeping golf courses open during this time.

"What I will assure people is we are still discussing this," said Walz. "If there is a potential for people to pay online, to get out there and be able to do this we need to explore this, so it is not a frivolous question."

While the courses sit quietly for now, golfers are ready to get back out there.

"You’re couped up in the house, you can’t do anything, you can’t go out, this would be a good relief," said Sadik Ozoglu, who lives in Woodbury.

Potter hopes the voices of the golfers are heard.

"There’s no reason to be closed, let’s get it open," Potter said.

According to the Minnesota Golf Association, 19 states are under a similar "stay-at-home order" as Minnesota. They say, of those 19, 11 are permitting golf. That’s only under the condition that golfers follow those social distancing guidelines.

Governor Walz added he’s going to consult with his health experts on whether or not this is a good idea to open golf courses.