By Katie Steiner

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Easter weekend, the ground was covered in snow. Six days later, golfers finally have the chance to hit the links.

Thanks to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order that allowed golf courses, marinas, bait shops, and outdoor shooting ranges to reopen.

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“We’ve been home stuck inside social distancing, the whole nine yard, so the opportunity to get out is really welcomed by me and everyone else out here. We need this,” said golfer Chuck Ellis.

He’s been waiting for this day to come for weeks.

“We’ve been texting each other back and forth, the guys that I play with, and we are anxious to get out. With the warm weather today, it’s a very warm welcome to get out and enjoy the outside,” Ellis said.

The golf experience is a little different than it has been in the past. Everything at River Oaks Golf Course in Cottage Grove is prepaid.

The clubhouse is closed, so golfers couldn’t go in even if they wanted to.

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The carts are for single riders only, unless the golfers are members of the same household.

Everyone has to remain six feet apart at all times, and the carts are constantly disinfected.

General Manager Dennis Neitz said most golfers don’t seem to mind the extra measures.

“People are excited today, looking to get out, it seems to be pretty good. We are booked until 5 or 6 tonight, so there obviously is a demand for it and people want to get out,” Neitz said.

For most golfers, it’s more than just playing the game again.

Ellis hasn’t seen his golfing buddies since February.

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“Having a chance to not only play the game, but spending some time with my friends. It’s been too long, where I haven’t been able to just have a conversation with friends. Even though it’s 6 feet across, at least we get the opportunity to see each other,” Ellis said.

Katie Steiner