Golf: Cloquet Invitational set to tee off
Though COVID-19 restrictions have put a serious economic dent on businesses such as movie theaters and indoor diners, the golfing industry apparently is benefiting.
That will be evident at Cloquet Country Club this week, where about 200 golfers will participate in the 89th Cloquet Invitational. This marks the first of the area golf tournaments to return in the era of coronavirus.
A total of 92 golfers have signed up for flight play Thursday and Friday, with more than 100 lined up for the championship and senior flights Saturday and Sunday.
With fewer available recreation options, Cloquet Country Club general manager Bill Manahan says people are doing more golfing.
“We have more members this year and there are more people playing,” said Manahan, who also serves as the course’s PGA professional. “We’ve noticed with a lot of the youth activities lessened, we’re seeing a lot more family play. Golfers are doing more golfing, and fishermen are doing more fishing. Whatever they can do, they are out there doing because they can’t do other things they normally would.”
Cloquet Country Club opened during the last week of April, approximately the same time it does every year, when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order saying social distancing could be accomplished at the course.
Manahan says that allowed his and other courses to thrive.
“We’ve had a good year,” he said.
Changes will be in place for this year’s tournament, however. In compliance with the governor’s order, pins will not be removed nor are there any ball washers or rakes on the course. Riding carts are sterilized after every use.
“Most (golfers) have played that way all year now, so they have gotten used to it and adapted,” Manahan said.
Manahan says spectators and walkalongs are discouraged from attending, but he adds that he has received positive feedback from the entrants.
“They understand it might not be the same feel and format, but they seem to appreciate us trying to figure something out that could work for everybody involved,” he said.
Despite the lack of rain in the Northland this year, Manahan says the course is in “super shape.”.
Taylor Sundbom is the defending champion.