Golf flag

The race to the first tee is on and, suddenly, Minnesota has emerged as an option for Wisconsin golfers before courses in the Badger State open next Friday.

A new executive order issued Friday by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz allows golf courses and driving ranges in his state to open starting at 5 a.m. Saturday. The move comes one day after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed an extension to his "Safer At Home" order that will allow golf courses in Wisconsin to open at 8 a.m. April 24.

Walz's order did not spell out conditions of the reopening to the extent that Evers' extension did, other than that courses should follow "new outdoor recreation guidelines" that include "maintaining 6-foot social distancing, avoiding crowded areas and staying close to home." Activities covered by Walz's order include: golf, boating, fishing, hunting and hiking.

"It's important for us to stay active and enjoy the outdoors while preventing the spread of COVID-19," Walz said in a statement. "This measure will allow Minnesotans to take advantage of more opportunities to get outside, while still doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy."

The order does not indicate whether out-of-state golfers will be asked for identification if they choose to play in Minnesota. There are more than a dozen courses in communities along the Mississippi River across the border that are popular among Wisconsin golfers.

More from this Section