Foothills golf enthusiasts have reason to celebrate, but hitting the links will look different for the foreseeable future.
With the province lifting some restrictions on the sport as of the first weekend of the month, several of Foothills’ ample golf offerings opened their seasons with some modifications.
Though it’s been a welcome change, the timeline and communication from the Province on the openings left a lot to be desired for one Okotoks golf course.
“The worst thing is, if I were to be quite frank, is it was done very, very poorly by the government,” said Crystal Ridge Golf Club general manager Garry Cook. “It kind of makes us look like idiots because we had absolutely no forewarning or no ‘get ready, we might do something in two weeks time.’
“All of a sudden they just came up and first of all said you can open Monday, that was on Thursday, and then they sent a tweet out saying actually you can open on Saturday.”
As part of the lifting of restrictions on golf, Premier Jason Kenney announced pro shops and clubhouses must remain closed until Alberta’s reached stage 1 of its phased re-opening up of the economy.
The 18-hole River’s Edge Golf Club opened on May 2 for foursome bookings and opened for regular bookings on May 4. River’s Edge listed its COVID-19 regulations as one person per cart, no walk-ons, practising 2m social distancing throughout the property as well as rakes and ballwashers removed from the course, to name just a few.
Okotoks’ D’Arcy Ranch Golf Club opened on May 4 with modifications, including prepaid green fees and one golfer per cart unless from the same household, and the driving range was available to on May 6.
In High Country, Turner Valley Golf Club’s expansive offerings will be opening to its members on May 8.
At the 9-hole Crystal Ridge, which opened on May 4, the social distancing measures include extending gaps between tee-times by 50 per cent to 12 minutes, only allowing pre-booked tee times along with sanitizing stations for the carts. There’s a limit on one person per cart unless the golfers in question are from the same household.
Additionally, the stick has to remain in the flagpole and Crystal Ridge has installed foam pool noodles at the bottom of the hole to elevate the ball and make it easy for golfers to retrieve without touching the flag.
Cook, who’s the owner of Calgary’s Lynx Ridge and Lakeside Golf Course in Chestermere, said the regulations called for are different at each course.
“What’s really weird is I own three courses and different health officers at all three locations have all got a different concept of what you can and cannot do,” Cook said. “One is saying yes you can have a beer cart, the other is saying no you can’t.
“Even talking to the health inspector, they say ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t even know,’ one said the first I heard about it is when I heard it on the news.’”
With golfers eager to hit the links, Cook reiterated that the courses are doing their best to adjust to the rapidly changing landscape.
“What I want to get across to people, who might say ‘you’ve been closed this long, how come you haven’t got everything organized’, well we didn’t know what we had to do,” he said. “We didn’t know whether we could take carts, no carts, one person per cart, two people, we just didn’t know.
“Anyway, we’ll get over it and move on.”
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