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Golf courses in Illinois took a hit on Thursday when they were ordered to close amid concerns with the world-wide coronavirus pandemic.
It was a reversal of a decision sent out Wednesday that courses could stay open, with certain provisions. They included keeping clubhouses closed, club golf carts could not be used, there were to be no food or beverage sales to golfers, and social distancing practices were to be observed.
That all changed on Thursday afternoon, when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office reversed course, stating that golf courses were not essential businesses and ordered to close immediately. Golf courses are considered “recreational sports businesses,” and thus, cannot open at a time when the season is usually just getting started.
Golf courses are permitted to perform routine maintenance, under the “minimum basic operations” clause of the governor’s executive order, but golfers are not permitted to play. Also, golf courses that want to have carry-out food service during this period may do so.
No timetable has been set for the possible re-opening of golf courses in Illinois.
Governor Pritzker’s stay at home order is slated to expire on April 7.
Illinois is not the first state to shut down its golf courses. According to Golf Advisor, Wisconsin courses must remain closed until April 24, and Ohio courses are closed through April 6. Massachusetts and Washington courses are closed, with no dates for a scheduled re-opening.
Some counties and cities in Indiana, California and Florida have shut down courses. Courses in Arizona and Connecticut remain open, but are to follow social distancing guidelines.
TopGolf, which has 54 locations in the United States, including in Naperville and Schaumburg, has temporarily suspended operations.
Shady Oaks Country Club near Amboy had been slated to open for walkers on April 1, then become fully operational as soon as April 8. That changed when word came down Thursday afternoon about courses in Illinois being shut down, much to the dismay of course manager Kris Welker.
“We were really disappointed, because we had spent lots of time and effort to get ready for the season, and had taken all of the proper precautions,” Welker said. “We were ready for people to get some fresh air and come and enjoy the beauty of Shady Oaks without harming each other. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what the governor does next when it comes to golf. Hopefully this won’t last too long.”