Golf courses opening up in Osceola County

Golfers prepare to tee off at Evart's Birch Valley Golf Course on Saturday. (Herald Review photo)

Golfers prepare to tee off at Evart's Birch Valley Golf Course on Saturday. (Herald Review photo)

REED CITY -- Golf courses in Osceola County are now open after Governor Whitmer's lifting of restrictions 10 day ago.

But course owners realize they would be facing challenges, especially regarding not being able to use motorized carts.

In Osceola County, the Birch Valley Golf Course of Evart, the Intimidator of Hawkins, Spring Valley Golf Course of Reed City and Tustin Trails Golf Course confirmed they were open for business.

Spring Valley opened shortly after the announcement was made to allow courses to operate, said Carol Semeyn, who owns and runs the course, along with her husband Don.

"It's been what I would call slow to steady," she said on Tuesday. "We don't have any leagues going yet. However, we have some of our older members anxious to golf. A few of them, what we've asked them to do, is if they're coming out to golf to call their partner so they show up and don't have to hang around the clubhouse...make it timely together and go on the course."

Golfers can bring hand carts, Semeyn noted, but not motorized carts.

"What the leagues are doing right now is not having sanctioned leagues but what they call warmups," she said. "If you have a partner for the league, what we're asking is you get together, call that partner and arrange a time to meet at the course so there's no gathering here. They come in, they meet in the parking lot together, pay their way and are on the course. We don't allow many gatherings in the clubhouse.

"We have a big patio here set up to only two people a table. People have been wonderful about distancing and wearing masks. We've only had one incident we had to break up and that was with young kids that didn't have masks and you don't want to be in each other's faces. We completely sanitize the clubhouse."

Semeyn is hoping on May 15, the state will begin authorizing the use of motorized carts.

"We have an older clientale here," she said. "On Thursday we have 30 people that have signed up for a fun day, on league. They go out in twosomes and will start in the morning. Every seven minutes, we let somebody go out. This keeps distancing on the course. And for standing in the clubhouse, we have everything marked of on the floor here in six-foot increments."

Birch Valley Golf Course of Evart, located at the northeast corner of the US-10 and M-66 intersection, was set to open last Friday.

"But without power carts, they'll be walking," owner Lynn Bay said. "But that's the plan."

He and other golf course owners have said carts are basically essential for having leagues.

"We have one league that's going to walk (if carts aren't allowed)," he said. "Right now we're not having the leagues start, tentatively, until carts can be used."

The league he's referring to is a "show up league," he said. "It's different people. All our leagues are nine holes."

The plan also is to be open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week.