Openings delayed at River Run, Hiawatha
A warm spring had many area linksters hopeful for an early start to the 2020 golf season, but officials at a pair of area courses said this week that’s not likely to happen due to Wisconsin’s ‘Safer At Home’ order handed down by Gov. Tony Evers this week.
The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, calls for the closure of all businesses deemed non-essential.
Sparta Parks and Recreation Director Brad Gilbertson said city officials were hoping to open River Run Golf Course on March 30, but Evers’ order will likely put that on hold for the time being.
“We didn’t have to make that decision – Gov. Evers made it for us. Right now, we can’t do anything. We can’t do anything for park and recreation,” sad Gilbertson. “As of now, everything is cancelled until further notice based on the stay home order Gov. Evers issued.”
Hiawatha Golf Club also was shooting for an early opening, but like River Run, the season start is up in the air.
Hiawatha General Manager Jeff Penkwitz was holding out hope the Tomah golf course could open in the nest week, but the governor’s order will push that date back as well.
After checking into the matter, Penkwitz said the state has determined that golf courses are non-essential businesses.
“I was targeting the end of the month, but this might have put a damper on the situation,” he offered.
Gilbertson said season passes had been on sale at the River Run pro shop since early March.
“I don’t know how many we’ve sold, but (pro shop manager) Garrett (Geier) has been bust up there working,” he offered.
As of now, the ‘Safer At Home” order is in effect until April 24, so a an earlier start to the golf season is unlikely.
As for the members who have already purchased season passes, Gilbertson said the city will address that once the order is lifted and the course is open.
He said if the season is shortened significantly, it’s likely fee would be refunded on a pro-rated basis.
“We haven’t talked about that, but logic would dictate that is what we could do,” sad Gilbertson. “ The start date is usually April 15, so anything past April 15 would be pro-rated.”
He said the special early-bird rates for season passes will be extended through May 15.
People who have made payments to reserve city shelters and other facilities will also receive refunds.
The Sparta Park and Recreation Department offices are now closed and Gilbertson said the best way to communicate with officials is through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ve laid off two employees and, as per the order, I’m there on a limited basis,” he said. “I get the emails on my phone, so I’ll be responding, and I’ll go into the office every day to check my emails and pay the bills.”