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Thousands of Golfers Petition Walz for a Mulligan on Course Closures

Golfers cooped up all winter in Minnesota have a tough enough time waiting for the snow to melt before teeing it up in the already short season here. But the thought of waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to subside before unpacking their clubs has thousands of golfers putting pressure on Gov. Tim Walz to give them a mulligan.

The future of golf?

Nearly 39,000 Minnesotans have already electronically “signed” an online petition that makes the case that Walz should reconsider the closure of golf courses for the good of the state’s “mental and physical well-being.” Golfers would be expected to follow the strict ground rules that  apply to other outdoor recreational activities.

Social distancing will be maintained, ProShops may remain closed (contactless payment on the 1st tee /starter shack or prepayment will allow the courses to get up and running financially), power carts can be restricted or sanitized thoroughly before and after each use (single rider), pins removed from greens (and holes filled to a height ensuring a golfer can retrieve his/her golf ball without touching the cup), no rental equipment during this time, no rakes in the bunkers (rake with your foot), water coolers removed, and other measures protect and ensure the safety of the golfers.

In an impassioned March 30 letter to Walz, the executive director of TwinCitiesGolf.com, Dr. Kevin Unterreiner, noted that 11 of 19 states with stay-at-home mandates already allow golf courses to operate, including the coronavirus hotbed of New York.

Courses in New York are allowed to remain open but must implement all CDC and state-mandated guidelines, and promote safe, social distancing. There is to be no access to pro shops, locker rooms, indoor facilities and restaurants/bars (except for take out only).

Under the heading of “golf courses can be part of the solution to defeat the COVID-19 crisis,” the letter maintains the financial health of the sport should also be a consideration with many golf courses still on the bubble after years of retrenchment in the industry.

While closed for play, neighbors are trespassing on golf course property with family and pets, further complicating the policing of  private property and increasing maintenance needs by the course staff while courses are deprived of revenue during mandated closure.

I’ve witnessed first hand as a health care provider with 25 years and 100,000+ patient visits of experience the positive benefits of outdoor exercise. Studies show one of the best ways to boost the immune system AND kill off viruses is to get mild exercise outdoors in the fresh air while being exposed to the ultraviolet light that the sun provides.

Adding golf to the governor’s scorecard of essential services may be a long shot. But supporters are hoping to submit 50,000 signatures in their bid to get Walz to reconsider.

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