General Manager Rory Godfrey thought golf at the private Bloomfield Hills, Mich. club would be allowed to remain available for its members, but clarification from the state nixed the option. “What’s the difference between walking on a golf course by yourself and walking on a golf course by yourself with a couple of sticks in your hand?” he asked.
One day after Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. sent a message to members announcing its golf course was open, the course was shut down by state order, the Detroit Free Press reported. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a “stay home” order on March 30 in hopes of slowing the coronavirus pandemic, then clarified it April 2, explaining public golf courses are not to be used through April 13.
Oakland Hills General Manager Rory Godfrey assumed this meant his private course could remain open, so he sent a letter to members announcing they could keep playing under new social distancing restrictions, the Free Press reported. A day later, the letter is void.
“It’s unfortunate,” Godfrey said. “What’s the difference between walking on a golf course by yourself and walking on a golf course by yourself with a couple of sticks in your hand?”
Violation of the order can result in fines or other penalties, Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown told the Free Press. “Golf courses, whether public or private, are not allowed to stay open and golf course employees can’t be asked to report to work,” she said.
In his letter, Godfrey told members he learned through conversation with officials in Lansing that limited private golf course activity was still permitted, the Free Press reported. But Godfrey wasn’t the one who spoke to state officials, he said. “I had people speak to them,” Godfrey said. “I don’t know their names, just relationships.”
Before the clarification on private courses, Oakland Hills planned to re-open the North Course to members only, the Free Press reported. All practice areas, including the driving range, also were set to close. The famed South Course already was closed for renovations.
The limitations included no guests and no golf cart usage. On the greens, flag sticks were removed and cups were elevated, the Free Press reported. Bunker rakes were put away. Tee times, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., would be made on the club’s website in 10-minute intervals.
“The letter speaks volumes,” Godfrey said. “Let people walk on the golf course. If they have clubs in their hand or not, it’s fine, just don’t have non-essential employees available.”
Oakland Hills told members to stay six feet apart to comply with social distancing guidelines, the Free Press reported. Tee boxes at the first and 10th holes would have been limited to one group at a time.
Restrooms along the course were to be locked, but there would have been hand sanitizing stations at the North Course bridge, the Free Press reported. In his letter, Godfrey recommended pairings of two players and asked that all golfers immediately return to their cars once their round was complete.
“Just follow the rules, follow the law,” Godfrey said of the plan to stay open. “That’s what we were going to do.”
Since restaurant take-out orders are still allowed, Godfrey has a few workers active in the kitchen and another at the front desk to take food orders, the Free Press reported.