The sun was shining and golfers flocked to Cloquet Country Club to squeeze in a round Thursday, April 30.

Those itching to get outside after more than a month of stay-at-home orders, took advantage of gorgeous weather conditions and the relaxation of restrictions to get out on the course.

General manager Bill Manahan said the course “wintered well” and the number of golfers coming out are up for this part of the season. Since the course opened April 26, there has been an average of about 100 golfers playing on days with good weather.

“You don’t have high school games or other commitments right now, so people are playing more golf — which is a good thing,” Manahan said.

While golfers were allowed to play, some changes were evident. Social distancing measures were enforced, and there was a larger separation between tee times to keep groups further apart. In addition, only one golfer was allowed to ride in each cart unless they live in the same household.

Club employees were also spending extra time wiping down and sanitizing carts and range balls to help ensure players’ and employees’ safety. The clubhouse and pro shop remained closed to players except to use bathrooms.

Cloquet High School sophomore Addie Loeb carries a basket of freshly washed golf balls to the driving range Thursday, April 30, at Cloquet Country Club. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Cloquet High School sophomore Addie Loeb carries a basket of freshly washed golf balls to the driving range Thursday, April 30, at Cloquet Country Club. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to be open, but we also want to keep people safe,” Manahan said.

Out on the course, players tried to keep a healthy distance between themselves and their playing partners and most were just happy to be out of the house and swinging a club.

“It’s always fun to get out the first time, take that first swing and realize everything you don’t know,” Cloquet resident David Malenius joked before he teed off.

David Malenius of Cloquet tees off on the first hole at Cloquet Country Club on Thursday, April 30. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
David Malenius of Cloquet tees off on the first hole at Cloquet Country Club on Thursday, April 30. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

Pine Hill Golf Course — a nine-hole course in Carlton — also opened April 26, with course manager James Barry saying the number of golfers has been about average in the last two weeks. He said the players are younger than normal, and he’s not seeing as many of the regulars he used to see.

“I’m afraid when everyone goes back to work, my business will go down,” Barry said.

The Moose Lake Golf Club has also seen increased traffic with more people not working during the week. Course manager Josh Gamst said normally his course sees around 50 golfers per day during the week, but that number has been closer to 75 since the course opened. He also said people purchasing course memberships have increased early in the season.

“The biggest problem is we can’t have events in the clubhouse,” Gamst said.

Gamst and Barry said the Moose Lake and Pine Hill courses are taking similar health and safety precautions at their courses as those implemented at Cloquet.