By Dan Hardenbrook

With news from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that we can golf again – albeit a little differently – and a weekend of beautiful weather, many people dusted off the clubs and swung away last weekend for the first time in 2020.

The off-season felt longer than usual, with stay-at-home orders and quarantines in place, but it turns out golf is the perfect game for a time like this.

The game takes place entirely outdoors, has plenty of space, and lets you purge built-up frustration by swinging a club as hard as you can – it sounds perfect! Whether you are a pro or just having fun, golf may soon become everybody’s favorite sport.

Lance Byrns has been in the golf business a long time. He’s seen just about everything, from the Lone Star state to the Upper Peninsula. But the Newberry Country Club’s owner and operator hasn’t experienced anything quite like this.

Though times are tough, Byrns feels lucky. “I’m very happy to be open. It has been a stressful period and I feel lucky to be open even if it’s just the course.”

Byrns is taking it day by day at the country club. He’s not sure when the club will be fully open. The pro shop will likely open, but the restaurant is up in the air. “I sure hope it can, but with that, our customers have to feel comfortable moving around and going out to eat,“ he said.

For now, he is encouraging everyone to go golfing. “Make a tee time, pay for your round, come out, and enjoy a great day on the course,” he said. “Come out and make some memories!”

Though golf has been given the green light, there are protocols in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Golf courses are for walking only. The clubhouse, pro shop, putting green, and driving range are closed.

“We are not to assist the golfer in any way,” Byrns said. Golfers with a handicap parking pass, a disability, or who are disabled veterans can use a golf cart. Additionally, golfers who own their own carts can use them – single rider only unless passengers are from the same household.

Tee times must be made and paid for over the phone. Golfers can then head straight to the first tee at their tee time, but cannot congregate, and must stay six feet apart from other golfers.

Golfers cannot touch the flagstick, and an insert has been put in the hole to aid in easy ball removal.

“There are no rakes on the course,” Byrns said. “Carts which are used are immediately sanitized upon it being returned and parked.”

But there are no changes to the game itself, and the beginning of the golf season is always exciting for visitors to the course. Byrns and the staff work hard to provide a first-class golf experience.

“We are constantly working hard to improve the condition and playability of the course,” he said. “We are very proud of what we have to offer our customers.”

Byrns acknowledged the privilege of being one of the first sports to come back online. “If everyone does their part we will be a great example that keeping a healthy mental state is good for the immune system,” he said.

You can contact the Newberry Country Club Pro Shop at (906) 293-8422 to schedule your tee time and get more information.