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A day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order sent the state's golf industry into a frenzy, the state has officially clarified that courses can remain open for play, with limited food and beverage sales.

Whitmer's office told the Michigan Golf Alliance that Tuesday, the organization announced.

The News reported Monday night that the executive order, which the GAM initially interpreted as meaning courses should close, didn't apply to actual play.

Here's what Whitmer's office told the Michigan Golf Alliance:

"Golf courses are allowed to stay open for play. Indoor facilities like clubhouses or restaurants must close for on-premises consumption, but may continue to offer food and beverage through walk-up service and other means expressly permitted by the Executive Order."

Golf courses will make their own decisions on whether to open, and several opened this weekend amid mild late-winter weather, including Detroit-operated Rackham, Rouge Park and Chandler Park. Others, like Canton's Pheasant Run Golf Club and Fellows Creek Golf Club, have chosen to stay closed.

Some courses Monday, confused by the executive order, even started asking golfers to leave the course in the afternoon, including at the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth.

Courses nationwide are grappling with what to do during the outbreak, with Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, the most prominent to announce it was shutting down.

But being outdoors, golf wouldn't seem as vulnerable to the virus, and would seem to skirt another Whitmer order, limiting close-proximity gatherings of 50 or more people. Golfers traditionally play four to a group at maximum, and are spread out by hundreds of yards.

Whitmer's executive order called for many businesses to close, including large gathering places, bars and restaurants. Carryout and delivery remained available for restaurants that wanted to offer the service.

Michigan has about 650 clubs and courses and more than a half-million recreational players, fueling a $4-billion industry that has tens of thousands of workers.

The Michigan Golf Alliance is made up of the GAM, PGA of Michigan, Michigan Golf Course Association, Michigan Golf Course Superintendents' Association and the Greater Michigan Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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