The wait is over for anxious golf enthusiasts across Minnesota as Governor Tim Walz’s recent executive order has allowed for the opening up of golf courses across the state effective as of April 18.

It was welcome news for Redwood Falls Golf Club Manager Ryan Fernelius who was excited to be able to get the course open for business.

“We’ve had a nice start to the spring and people were ready to get out and golf,” he said. “Obviously it’s not ideal with all of the different restrictions, but it’s great to be open.”

The executive order allows individuals (essentially groups within a single household) to engage in outdoor activities, such as golf, as long as participants adhere to social distancing measures.

The order, however, does not include “performances, competitions, team events, tournaments, races, rallies, organized sports, spectator events, fairs or any other events that involve the gathering of individuals in a manner that would preclude social distancing. For example, individuals must not partake, as participants or spectators, in activities, such as marathons, fundraising walks, fishing contests, league sports or any kind of tournament.”

For the safety of the golfers, a number of measures have been put in place. Carts for example are sanitized after each use, tee times are taken over the phone or online, there are no rakes in the bunkers, ball washers are covered (not in use), the flagsticks are not to be touched, bathrooms on the course are locked down and the clubhouse is limited to just five people inside at a time as golfers are asked to maintain their distance. The bar area/deck is also closed down.

For Redwood Falls Golf Club patrons, a familiar face will be handling the duties as Fernelius returns after two years to reclaim the general manager position. The Willmar native – who worked for many years at Eagle Creek Golf Club – was the manager from 2015-17 before leaving to pursue other interests.

Fellow Eagle Creek alum John “Woody” Wodash is the new superintendent and has been able to be working throughout the previous shutdown.

The course looks good for mid-April and a number of water issues have been addressed in the off season including tiling on holes 6, 7, 12, 13, 15 and also to the right of hole 16.

Being able to get out and play golf has been a welcome relief to many, and despite the restrictions that has brought a spark of hope and optimism to local golfers.

Fernelius is still uncertain of how the next few months will go.

As of now, iconic tournaments, such as the Palmer Kise Invitational, remain in jeopardy of being cancelled.

“It’s hard to say exactly how this is all going to play out,” Fernelius said, “but we’ll take it day by day and hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll have more of an idea what the summer might entail. Until then, it’s just nice to be open and let our members and the community get out and play golf.”