Sheriff: Private golf course members can use grounds

CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) —  As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay at home order continues, questions continue to arise.

Many viewers have asked News 8 why law enforcement hasn’t intervened after a photo showing people gathered at a local golf course sparked controversy on social media.

A courtesy photo sent by a WOOD TV8 viewer of a golf course during the stay at home order. (April 11, 2020)
A courtesy photo sent by a WOOD TV8 viewer of a golf course during the stay at home order. (April 11, 2020)

The picture, said to be taken Saturday, shows dozens of people out golfing at the StoneWater Golf Course in Caledonia.

State officials have made it clear that golf courses should not be open at this time under Whitmer’s order. But the Kent County Sheriff’s Department says this is not a violation they can enforce when it comes to a private course like the StoneWater Country Club.

Kent County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Joel Roon said they consulted with the county prosecutor’s office and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to come up with the following conclusion.

“Private golf courses are allowed to permit members to walk on and use the grounds if they choose,” Roon said. “They cannot be open in any way, no pro shop, bar, etc. But if a member shows up with their own cart and decides to start playing, this is not an enforceable violation of the executive order.”

Officials say the can, and likely does, have an “essential employee” on duty to act as security, ensuring only members are on the grounds.

News 8 reached out to the StoneWater Country Club for comment but have yet to hear back.