Perhaps it’s as a sign of returning to normalcy.
The men’s Briarbrook Invitational will be played as scheduled on June 12-14 at the Briarbrook Golf Course.
“We are 100 percent playing golf,” Briarbrook golf professional Nate Benedict said Thursday afternoon. “What I don’t know is some of the extra curricular/social activities typically associated with that ... I don’t think we will do that.
“We’re going to serve box lunches for meals. We are considering trying to do perhaps an outdoor-type social activity on Saturday night ... a block party or bonfire or something like that just to have a social element to it. But we are definitely playing golf.”
This is certainly good news as only weeks earlier, it appeared that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause the tournament to be canceled for the second straight year. Last year’s event was called off after a tornado hit the Briarbrook community in May.
There is one change to this year’s tournament. The Senior Division — ages 60-over — will be reduced to a 36-hole tournament, 18 holes on both Saturday and Sunday. It will remain a 54-hole tournament for non-seniors starting on Friday.
With the tournament now definitely a go, entries are starting to come in.
“Some of my diehards have gone ahead and signed up for it,” Benedict said. “As far as the outside play, I haven’t seen that yet. But we’re just getting the word out. I’m hopeful we can get 80 to 100 players in it this year.”
Benedict doesn’t foresee any problems following the public safety procedures in place.
“We feel confident we can abide by the social distancing guideline, not have too big of a crowd,” he said. “We are still leaving the pool noodles in the holes. I’m hopeful that I can lift that restriction by the Invitational. I’d like to get bunker rakes back on the course and be able to remove flagsticks. But if we can’t, we’ll just deal with it.
“Now we’re getting into what would normally be golfing season with tournaments and events. We held our first tournament, our Green and Grow, in May. We did tee times instead of a shotgun start, and we didn’t do an awards presentation or a meal. We had decent participation in it -- 66 players. We’re going to try our first shotgun tournament on Monday, a Memorial Day scramble. The field is full for that, but a lot of doom and gloom as far as the weather is concerned for this weekend.”
The course has lightened its policy of one person per cart except for families.
“That is now optional for the customer,” Benedict said. “We are offering rider per cart. You can take your own cart if you choose. I really had a lot of resistance to (one rider per cart) that I did not expect. A lot of the guys wanted to ride with a buddy. Initially it was mandatory that you take your own cart, but a lot of guys are out here spending time with their buddies and wanted to ride together. So we’ve relaxed that restriction a little bit.”