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Shut down in Minnesota due to COVID-19

By |  April 7, 2020 0 Comments

It’s been “stay in place” for Bret Kirchner, golf course superintendent with Victory Links Golf Course at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., for a little more than three weeks when Golfdom had a chance to speak with him.

The National Sports Center is a 600-acre multisport complex in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Victory Links Golf Course is the only PGA Tour-designed public course in the state. The course has 18 holes that cover about 400 acres.

Kirchner says there wasn’t much to prepare for in terms of getting the grass ready because when the stay-in-place order was put in place in mid-March, there was still snow on the ground.

He estimates with the nice weather they’ve been having in his area, greens are coming out of dormancy within the next week or two, but tees, fairways and roughs are still dormant.

But, none of that matters at the moment, as golf course maintenance is considered nonessential.

Kirchner says he expects the stay-in-place order to be extended, as bars, restaurants and schools are closed through May 1, and many of the National Sports Center facilities fall under the umbrella of the May 1 order.

“Yes, I’m worried,” he says, adding that this stoppage could carry on for a while. “I have faith.”

That faith is, Kirchner says, is that the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association, as well as the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, will work with officials from states where course maintenance is deemed nonessential — such as Minnesota — to get at least minimal maintenance allowed, especially as courses come out of dormancy.

“I don’t see them letting all these properties go to waste,” he says.

Kirchner’s also concerned about how the media could portray golfers who may not be practicing social distancing while out on the links. That could potentially ruin it for everyone. But he understands this is bigger than just golf courses, and soon there will likely be some clarity as to when he can get back out on his course.

But for now, he just has to realize the irony of this spring as the past two years there were blizzards in mid-April.

“Everyone’s coming out of winter with great turf,” he said. “This is a complete 180.”

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