October 20th, 2020

Courses rush to tee it up


By Yoos, Cam on May 4, 2020.

Herald photo by Greg Bobinec - Henderson was still working on getting up and running, but golfers were able to hit the links at several courses this weekend as the province allowed golf courses to open with preventative health measures in place.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

When the government of Alberta laid out its plan for opening services throughout the province, many golf courses were excited to open but were caught off guard by the immediate notice.

Hundreds of golfers took to their favourite courses Saturday to get back into the swing of the sport, with many restrictions and regulations that players must abide by. Picture Butte Golf Club saw around 170 players on their course on opening day, and although they were caught off guard by the opening, they say a lot of people were excited to get back on the course.

“We were surprised. We have been obviously keen to get open, but the safety of the public and the staff was priority for us,” says David Sklarenko, Picture Butte Golf Club.

“We have been listening to provinces that were already open and available and we were running under the assumption that May 15 would be the target for Alberta’s release, so the short notice was certainly caught off guard for us and I would assume for everybody across the province, however, we do feel that with proper protocol and procedures that golf can be a safe place to play if everybody follows the rules and guidelines.”

Once the announcement was made, golf course workers went out on the course to remove any benches, flags and other objects that could be used as cross contamination. Along with not being able to wait in the club house or ride with other players, golf courses are taking the social distancing regulations seriously.

“We have been following the guidelines that we are being very strict with. Payment for golf must be made in advance so there is no interaction at the club, players can’t check in until 15 minutes before their tee time and we do have restrictions in the parking lot that we must have our golfers wait until directed through our starter which would be 10 minutes before their time, or until the group in front of them have moved forward,” says Sklarenko.

Other golf courses such as Henderson Lake Golf Club were completely taken by surprise when they found out they could open. In a statement on their Facebook page, director Dave Nelson says that the safety of the public and their staff is the most important and they are working to find the best way and time to reopen the course.

“I completely understand that everyone is anxious to get out on the course and that a lot of other facilities in the area are open now or very shortly,” says Nelson.

“Our number one focus is making sure the staff and the players are going to be safe and that the golf course is as ready as possible to handle the play that will come. Because of the virus, we weren’t sure if, or when we would get to open. We assumed that if and when the restrictions were eased there would be a two or three-week window provided to ramp up.”

Paradise Canyon also opened this weekend with a number of restrictions and regulations that players must follow. Each golf course must follow cleaning and social distancing regulations to remain operational during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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