Thursday, May 14th 2020, 2:17 pm - Golfers across Canada should not expect to return to the same game they left behind last fall
As this global pandemic continues, many Canadians are realizing just how much the provincial and national restrictions are cutting into their summer -- arguably, the best time of year in Canada.
Golf has been a huge topic nationwide with many provinces lifting restrictions and allowing courses to open. However, golfers should not expect to return to the same game they left behind last fall.
Courtesy: Vancouver UGC/The Weather Network
“Golf will have to adapt like many other industries,” says Adam Helmer Senior Director of Golf Services at Golf Canada. “Limiting the social touchpoints as you go through a journey on a round of golf will be extremely different.”
Touchpoints including how you pay for a round, pick up a cart, collect your ball, use rakes or purchase a beverage have all changed.
The Weather Network recently had the opportunity to tour the Blue Devil Golf Course in Calgary to get a better idea of how things will adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Golf cart rentals have changed,” explains Kyle Brittain, a Weather Network reporter who toured the course. “You can only ride in a cart with members of your family. If you don't live in the same household, you are on your own.”
Brittan adds that golfers will not be able to pay for their round at the course, but rather will need to prepay for their game online.
“Golfers will line up in their vehicles at the gate, as they are only letting in a certain amount of people at a time,” explains Brittain. “This helps to avoid people gathering before their tee time.”
Other notable changes:
- No ball washer
- Cups inside holes are inverted
- Not allowed to touch or remove flags
- No bunker rakes
- No drink or food service
- Tee times spread 20 minutes apart
- No access to club facilities
- Limited practice time, if any
- Absolutely no congregation before or after games
Golfers lined up in Calgary waiting tee time in vehicles. Courtesy: Kyle Brittain
Many courses across Canada have taken measures to install hand sanitizer stations along the course so players can disinfect if they feel the need.
“Ultimately, it is the provincial government and health authorities who are coming up with the guidelines for golf's return,” says Helmer. “There has been a lot of collaboration within the golf industry. We are getting real-time feedback from the courses who are open about the procedures and protocols that courses should adopt.”
As of May 12, golf courses in these provinces are allowed to operate:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
As of May 15th, Saskatchewan will be allowed to have operational golf courses.
In Nova Scotia, the driving ranges have opened, however, the Nova Scotia Golf Association has not posted a new update since May 1st about courses.
The Maritime province is having a difficult time deciding when to open courses since so many people travel to the province in order to golf. With strict rules on travellers being quarantined for 14 days when entering the province, it will be hard to keep golf tourism booming.
Golfers in Ontario finally got the answers they have been looking for on Thursday, May 14. The Ford government announced that courses will be in operation as of Saturday May 16th.
As for Quebec, the provincial government set May 20th as the opening.
As COVID-19 delays and changes golf season, Golf Canada understands that your game may not be as smooth as other years and have developed a handicap for the season.
“We want everyone to be as safe as possible -- that means golfers and staff,” says Helmer. “I think there is a huge responsibility to the industry at whole, but also to the golfers out there. Clubs are doing a great job with educating and communicating to golfers about the policies in place. We are seeing clubs go above and beyond with protocols.”
Courses in Ontario prepare to open. Courtesy: David Hodge
While golf has a natural social distance, officials are hoping everyone takes the new guidelines seriously so the game can only move forward this season with no setbacks.
Be sure to watch the video that leads this article for more details on Canada’s golf restrictions.