Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Governor Tim Walz has signed an executive order allowing Minnesota golf courses to open, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be open this weekend.

The governor’s order takes effect at 5 a.m. Saturday but the Rochester Park and Recreation Department is indicating the city’s four municipal courses are not ready for play because of the snowstorm last weekend that dumped 7 to 10 inches of snow on the region. With good weather, city officials say the golf courses should be ready in 7-10 days.

Paul Widman, Director of Parks and Recreation, shared concerns related to the demand for golf this season. “We have heard from many avid golfers who are anxious to get back in the game,” said Widman. “We also need to face the reality that many golfers may opt-out or reduce play this season due to the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

A news release says the Parks and Recreation Department is working directly with the Olmsted County Emergency Operations Center to ensure that all COVID-19 modifications implemented at the courses meet the approval of local public health and safety officials. The city has also announced that, rather than implementing the 2020 price increases that were planned for this year, golf passes and greens fees will be offered at the 2019 rates.

Widman says the Soldiers Field Golf Course will open first once conditions improve and then Eastwood Golf Course will follow. The demand and the city’s ability to keep up with safety modifications will dictate whether the Northern Hills and Hadley Creek facilities will open this year.

The City of Rochester Parks and Recreation Department will be using guidelines developed by the National Golf Foundation in response to COVID-19. These guidelines include:

  • Scheduling tee-times 12-15 minutes apart so golfers can spread out.
  • Reducing clubhouse services. No gathering in the clubhouse.
  • One rider per golf cart, or walk the course.
  • Modifying or removing high-touch equipment on courses, such as benches, ball-washers, and bunker rakes.
  • Golfers bring their own pencils. No scorecards will be provided.
  • Hole cups will be raised. Balls will hit the side of the cup rather than dropping in the cup.
  • Limiting the hours of operation so staff can clean and sanitize facilities and equipment.
    Payment by credit card, preferably online.
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