Avid golfers in McFarland, Monona and Cottage Grove had to be breathing a sigh of relief April 24 when their favorite local golf courses opened after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to stay closed.

While the city of Madison’s Monona Golf Course and Cottage Grove’s two facilities, The Oaks and Door Creek, have seen good business thus far, they are also following through on the precautions ordered by Gov. Tony Evers to protect people from the disease.

All three courses are only accepting prepaid tee times over the phone or online, the tee times are spaced out at 10-to-12-minute intervals to avoid too many golfers congregating at each tee, golf carts are limited to one person (two if they are members of the same household), and driving ranges and practice putting greens are closed.

Workers are also disinfecting beverage carts, flag sticks, golf carts and food service areas to avoid contamination.

“I had all golf carts and beverage carts treated with a solution that kills coronavirus, and it doesn’t allow it to live for up to 90 days on a surface,” said Jessica Blaska-Grady, general manager at The Oaks, which has inverted cups so the ball drops into a hole a half-inch deep so golfers may retrieve balls without touching the flag stick.

Other steps to improve safety have included the removal of sand rakes and ball washers. Signs have been placed on the courses to remind golfers not to touch the flag sticks and to practice social distancing.

Kristin Frederickson, the owner of Door Creek Golf Course, said golfers appear to be in support of the safety measures.

“Everyone seems to genuinely understand the restrictions and are just happy to be out doing something they love again,” she said. “We witness them giving each other space and really being respectful.”

Theran Steindl, golf course supervisor at the Monona Golf Course, said his customers are happy to be outdoors in one of the few businesses that now allows public admittance.

“The resounding sentiment is positive,” he said. “I think people understand we are doing what we can. Overall, they are just happy that they are out playing golf and enjoying the weather.

“We are doing our part to be positive stewards of the community.”

Steindl said his course is not handing out scorecards as another means of protecting players. He said people who want to place a food or beverage order should call in advance before arriving at the golf course.

“They can just call us, we package it in a bag with the customer’s name and put it on a table in front of the building,” he said. “That way, there is zero contact with the customer. We’re doing everything within our power to keep our guests as safe as possible. It’s our goal to make sure we don’t do anything that could jeopardy someone’s health and safety.”

Blaska-Grady said at The Oaks, all barstools and furniture have been removed from the dining area, and people may order food and beverages at the bar. They are not allowed to hang out in the bar.

While the virus remains present in Wisconsin and throughout the globe, Frederickson encourages people to play golf and be aware of what they need to do stay safe.

“I think it is up to everyone to decide for themselves just how comfortable they are out and about,” she said. “I would say for two to four hours you are getting fresh air and exercise on a golf course which are good for the spirit.”

Blaska-Grady suggests people book tee times at The Oaks after 4 p.m. when typically, there are fewer players on the course.

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