Country Club of Lansing allows members to ignore lockdown

AG: Members-only golfing strategy still clashes with state executive order

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THURSDAY, April 16 — The Country Club of Greater Lansing is again allowing its members to play on its course along Moores River Drive after a brief shutdown. And that’s despite guidance today from the state’s top law enforcement official that said otherwise. 

“We cannot rely on the superfluous statements made by each respective office and must only rely on the text of the order itself,” according to an email from the Country Club to its members sent earlier this week, again allowing golf to be played. “If the governor intended the order to specifically ban golf, she would have included such specific language in the order.” 

The governor’s orders state that public courses must close; It doesn’t mention private clubs. However, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel said today that it’s inaccurate to claim that private club members can continue to play on private courses amid the pandemic. “Bottom line is that golf courses may not be open,” she explained to City Pulse this morning. 

But that’s precisely what the Country Club of Lansing is now allowing to take place this week. 

Following reports in City Pulse on players on the golf course last week, the green was deserted the next day. Staff also told its members not to use the course during the closure. But apparently, officials there no longer think the governor’s orders apply.

The Country Club this week is again allow golfers to walk the course and play either alone or in groups of two, provided they remain six feet apart from one another. The driving range, golf carts, the clubhouse, the putting green and other amenities remain closed. 

Guests and other nonmembers are not allowed on the property — as indicated by newly placed signage — and after the game, members are asked to leave the course immediately. 

“Steps will be taken to remove from club property nonmembers and those members who are not abiding by the rules established in this letter,” the Country Club said. “Should you choose to golf the course for your outdoor physical activity, you alone bear the risk of any penalty.” 

After last week's story was published, the Lansing Police Department told the Country Club that it may still send its officers out to ticket golfers that are outside playing. Local law enforcement alone carries the burden of enforcing the governor’s recent orders. An LPD spokesman, however, said today officers no longer plan to issue citations to Country Club members who continue to play golf. 

In other Michigan counties, prosecutors have also decided that they cannot prevent people from walking onto a course and playing golf, regardless of how the state order is interpreted. 

Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Becker told MLive that golfing is no different than walking in parks and other green spaces. Golfing, if allowed by the course, cannot be stopped. Tickets, subsequently, could only be issued for those that fail to keep a six-foot social distance. 

According to recent reports, Green Oaks Country Club in Ypsilanti has also decided to reopen this week, quoting Kelly Rossman-McKinney, an AG spokeswoman, as allowing members to play. Rossman-McKinney, for her part, has since said that guidance was not accurately interpreted.  

Multiple calls to the Country Club of Lansing were not returned to City Pulse.  

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