Attention Readers: We're Back
C&G Newspapers is pleased to have resumed publication. For the time being, our papers will publish on a biweekly basis as we work toward our return to weekly papers. In between issues, and anytime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.
 Burning Tree Golf & Country Club General Manager Katrina Showers said the Macomb Township business has spent thousands of dollars on personal protective equipment to ensure the health of golfers and employees.

Burning Tree Golf & Country Club General Manager Katrina Showers said the Macomb Township business has spent thousands of dollars on personal protective equipment to ensure the health of golfers and employees.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Local businesses return to work as restrictions loosen

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 9, 2020

 Shane Legeret, of Macomb Township, cleans a golf cart at Burning Tree Golf & Country Club. Carts are washed off and sanitized after each use.

Shane Legeret, of Macomb Township, cleans a golf cart at Burning Tree Golf & Country Club. Carts are washed off and sanitized after each use.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Advertisement

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — For nearly 10 weeks, Michigan was under a stay-at-home order.

That changed June 1 when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rescinded the order, moving the entire state to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan. The order first took effect March 24.

The new order allowed retailers to reopen June 4 and restaurants to reopen June 8, both subject to capacity limits. As of June 3, the plan was for the dining room at Burning Tree Golf & Country Club in Macomb Township to open June 9. The course opened in May to golfers.

A day after the order was lifted, Katrina Showers, Burning Tree general manager, spoke about what life has been like for the business in the age of COVID-19 and what the course will look like now that rules have been loosened.

The 18-hole private course, located at 22871 21 Mile Road, was established in 1958.

Showers said there will be reduced hours of operation to leave more time for sanitization. The banquet center is operating at half capacity, meaning 100 people can gather at once.

By mid-March, right around the time it was announced that bars and restaurants would temporarily close to dine-in service, Showers said the course’s calendar was filling up with events.

“There’s been huge financial stress on us,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic hitting Michigan, the clubhouse was closed for five months for remodeling. A grand opening party for Burning Tree members scheduled for March 28 was canceled.  

Due to COVID-19 and its uncertainty, all parties, events and golf outings through the end of the month, as well as a majority of outings in July, have been canceled. Typically, springtime is quite busy at the course for events like baby and wedding showers.

Additionally, as of the first week of June, the course wasn’t permitted to sell alcohol — what Showers called a huge source of revenue — due to state directives.

In April, much news was made around the state regarding people showing up at golf courses, despite the courses remaining shuttered.

At Burning Tree, Showers said that wasn’t the case since the course is private.

“They pay dues every month, so that wasn’t an issue until we had to make them stop to comply,” Showers said.

Golfers who showed up to the course then were allowed to walk.

Since quality spring and summer weather in Michigan can sometimes be difficult to come by and leaves golfers with a short time frame to hit the links, Showers said members were furious that courses around the state were closed for as long as they were.

“The season is super short and they pay for it all year long,” she said. “First it was people could get out and exercise, except for golf.”

When golfers show up to the course, the “new normal” means masks and gloves for employees, and plenty of antibacterial dispensers and wipes throughout the course.

Burning Tree Event Coordinator Debbie Lico said many tables and chairs in the dining room have been moved to accommodate social distancing.

“That includes the two outdoor patios we have,” she said.   

Showers said thousands of dollars have been spent on personal protective equipment to ensure golfer well-being.

“We have posters stating to maintain social distancing,” she said.

Lico said all kitchen staff are required to wear masks while working.

“We are a family when it comes to a private course, and when you think of family, you tend to have a little more heart behind the work,” Lico said. “We want to make sure members and staff are extremely safe.”

With all of the changes in place, members have been frequently informed via email of what they can expect as they return to golf.

Since the course is spread out over 120 acres, Showers doesn’t expect social distancing to be an issue.

“Even if you have 100 golfers out there, they’re not in the same spot — they are all over,” she said.

Thermometers will be utilized for employees when they enter the building to start their shift.

Another way customers and employees will be protected is with the use of a new computer system, where servers use tablets to place orders, so that the same equipment isn’t shared among staff.

Paper menus will also be utilized, and can be thrown away after each use.

Lico said course members have been extremely supportive of the business during this time.

“It was less busy with carryout orders, but we did the best we could with what we had to work with,” she said.

Even though the course is experiencing a harder time financially, Showers said she doesn’t anticipate scaling back the workforce this summer.

Since a large number of summer events and activities are canceled, she said the course is hearing more from people with more time who want to golf.

In fact, the number of memberships has increased thus far. Currently, it has 200 members.

“There’s a lot of inquiries about membership,” Showers said. “People know the course is under new ownership.”

The course was purchased by new owners in late 2019. Showers said it was formerly owned by Anthony Marrocco, who was recently indicted on federal corruption charges.

Advertisement