With school closed for the rest of the year, Verona Area High School senior Cale Rufenacht knew the cancellation of his senior golf season was inevitable.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted 10-1 to cancel spring sports competition last week due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Rufenacht, who will attend the University of Kentucky next fall, got some good news when Wisconsin golf courses opened Friday, April 24.
“It was definitely upsetting for me because it was my last high school sport,” Rufenacht said of the WIAA BOC’s decision. “One thing that made it easier to cope was that I won a state championship in hockey. That was a good way to end it.”
In 2018, Verona finished 11th at the Division 1 boys state golf tournament and Rufenacht tied for 76th individually. Last year at the Division 1 Wisconsin Rapids Sectional, Rufenacht carded an 81 and ended in a four-way tie for 20th.
Rufenacht, his brother and 2018 VAHS graduate Connor Rufenacht and friend Rick Witt played at Hawks Landing Golf Club last Friday.
The club had been closed under Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Golf courses were allowed to open with safety restrictions under Evers’ amended order on April 16.
“It felt good to get out of the house and get some fresh air,” Cale Rufenacht said.
Safety restrictions prohibit the use of golf carts. All tee times must be booked by phone or online. Clubhouses and pro shops remain closed and social distancing requirements (at least six feet apart) must be followed.
Cale Rufenacht, who is considering joining the golf team at Kentucky, is not a fan of the safety restrictions that prevent golfers from touching the pin.
“It’s not what I’m used to with the pin and I don’t like it, but I understand why we have to do it,” he said.
Rufenacht golfs about five times a week. He plans to play in several local tournaments this summer if they are not canceled or postponed.
Some establishments are taking additional measures, like spacing out tee times to ensure courses don’t become too crowded with golfers on one hole and keeping driving ranges closed. Many courses have removed ball washers and rakes.
The Wisconsin State Golf Association and the Wisconsin PGA lobbied to reopen courses. Golf courses in Wisconsin had been shut down since March 25, but maintenance continued during the shutdown. Mowing the fairways and greens, continued fertilization and chemical application plans were deemed essential.
Thirteen states shut down golf courses, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. Illinois courses may reopen Friday, May 1.