Golf courses ready and waiting for signal to reopen

The treed fairways of the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club are seen in this aerial file photo, looking south toward downtown Sarnia. Glenn Ogilvie

Troy Shantz

Editor’s note: Ontario said today golf courses and marinas will be allowed to open to the public on Sunday, May 17.

Local golf courses are prepped and ready to reopen as soon as they get the word, but things will look different once they do, operators say.

“We’re going to be implementing some significant changes to our typical operating procedures … that are going to make the game of golf quite a bit different,” said Jay Peters, president of Huron Oaks and Greenwood golf clubs.

“The whole industry is frankly very committed to playing it’s part and flattening the curve of COVID-19.”

Golf courses in B.C. and New Brunswick have reopened and Ontario’s will follow at some point. In addition to preparing greens and fairways, local courses are retooling the rules so players can safely tee off this season.

Peters said players at his courses will need to pre-book tee times and, where possible, pay online.

Two-metre physical distancing will be mandatory at all times — no fist bumps or handshakes, he said.

Buildings, putting greens and driving ranges will be off limits.

No pull carts, and no food or drink can be brought in from off-site, including water.

Tee-times will be spaced further apart, and players asked to arrive no more than 20 minutes early, Peters said.

Staff will sanitize everything, even the flags, and will be patrolling fairways on the lookout for offenders.

“If people are not willing to follow the procedures they will not be allowed to play,” he said.

“It’s been very well driven into us that this is very, very important and essential that we maintain physical distance.”

GM Michael Hearse said the Sarnia Golf & Curling Club will be sharing its pandemic reopening plans with members soon.

“A lot of effort to reduce touch points and transmission areas,” he said.

“Certainly being as cautious as possible and upholding social distancing in different ways.

“Golf will change.”