Area golf: 'We're ready to do this'

Willmar area golf courses, including Valley Golf Course and Eagle Creek Golf Club, get the OK to open

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Pete Hannig won the 2019 Lakeland Championship at Eagle Creek Golf Club on June 30, 2019 in Willmar. Golf courses around the state will reopen Saturday under a new executive order from Gov. Tim Walz. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Golf is finally a go in Minnesota.

On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-38, which expands allowable outdoor recreational activities. Courses are officially allowed to reopen at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Since Walz’ executive order on March 17, golf courses have been closed in Minnesota. They were issued a small reprieve on April 8 when the stay-at-home order was updated to allow maintenance crews back onto courses after previously being deemed non-essential workers.

When word of Walz’ outdoor expansion made the rounds, avid golfers and duffers alike were ready to get going.

“I’m going to be here and my wife is taking work off at noon,” Nick Ebnet, owner/manager of Valley Golf Course in Willmar, said late Friday morning. “We’ll be washing carts up, getting them outside and then coming up with the plan. People are already calling for tee times.”


Ebnet added: “My kids were all texting me (about courses reopening). I came in from mowing the greens and my phone was lighting up.”

At 3 p.m. Friday, Joe Wisocki, the general manager/director of golf at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar, posted a video message on the course’s Facebook page about Saturday’s opener.

“We’re going to start at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning,” Wisocki said. “We do have limited tee times due to the fact we’ll be spacing 15-minute intervals. We’ll do single-rider carts unless you are immediate family. There’ll be limited carts at this time.”

Wisocki said by phone afterwards that access to the golf shop would be limited to four-to-six people at a time and a game plan for the driving range was still being worked out.

“We’re ready to do this,” Wisocki said amid the clubhouse phone’s near-constant ringing in the background.

“We’ll be practicing great social distancing.”

Along with golf, other outdoor facilities allowed to reopen are: shooting ranges, game farms, bait shops, public and private parks and trails, boating, marina services, dock installation and by-appointment boat/off-highway vehicle sales.

“It’s important to us to stay active and enjoy the outdoors while preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Walz said in a press release. “This measure will allow Minnesotans to take advantage of more opportunities to get outside, while still doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy.”


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