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Golf operators in DeKalb, Sycamore, Spring Creek 'ready to open' May 1 amid unknown guidelines

The River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb is empty Wednesday as it has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb is empty Wednesday as it has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Aside from Gov. JB Pritzker saying on Thursday golf courses can open again with restrictions on May 1, not much is yet known about what those new restrictions will look like.

Still, golf course operators are ready for whatever the public safety guidelines to curb community spread of the coronavirus turn out to be.

"I'm kind of giddy about it," Kishwaukee Country Club head golf pro David Paeglow said. "I've been chomping at the bit. I live on the golf course and I see it every day. It looks so good and no one's out there. It's going to be nice next Friday."

Steven Moore, the DeKalb Park District golf superintendent, said he's looking into what the precautions are.

"We have different things set up," said Moore, superintendent of the two DeKalb public courses, River Heights and Buena Vista. "We're just looking into it. It's good news that can we get things open. If we can do it in a safe manner, we're all for it."

Pritzker announced an extension of his stay at home order through May 30, and said certain businesses could start operating with precautions. One of those was golf courses.

Sycamore golf superintendent Kirk Lundbeck said he is waiting for official word of specific precautions.

"We are prepared," Lundbeck said. "With any additional guidelines they give us in writing we know what to do. But I have a bunch of different scenarios already planned."

In Spring Hill, Spring Creek Golf Course co-owner Jack Potthoff said he thinks the state might allow re-opening of courses at some point in the next few days or a couple of weeks.

The last time Spring Creek's staff opened the course, for a day, Potthoff took measures to prevent golfers from putting their hand in the hole or on the pin, by making certain all of the cups protruded above ground and the pins could not be pulled out. They also closed the clubhouse and the bar.

Potthoff said despite the lack of revenue, a skeleton crew of employees have been mowing and doing clean-up around the course — they have to mow regularly or the greens will be ruined.

"Next week it will go to 80 (degrees) and the grass will really start growing," Potthoff told the LaSalle News Times.

Lundbeck said they could be ready to open Sycamore's public course within a day or two.

Although specifics from the governor's office are not known, Lundbeck and other golf course operators have talked about various safety precautions. These include turning cups upside down so the bottom is not touched, just the ball, and the closing of clubhouses with reservations being made online.

Other precautions discussed as potential ideas to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus included the removal of ball washes and benches from the courses and the frequent cleaning of golf carts -- if golf carts will even be allowed.

Paeglow said he was out on the course when he heard the news, clearing brush with a maintenance crew around the 12th hole.

He said he started thinking about the different possibilities and what other states are doing.

"Iowa and Indiana are allowing golf carts and the driving range, but Wisconsin and Minnesota I believe there are no range and no carts," Paeglow said. "At this point I'll take what we can get. If they allow carts with single riders obviously that would help a lot."

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