It seems like most of the world has been sitting indoors forever, waiting for the chance to see some semblance of normalcy return. Early last week things began to shift in a positive direction, as stores and other types of business were given the green light to reopen or given more freedoms to the way they’ve been operating.
One of the things that people have been hoping would open is golf courses and as of May 16, their wishes were granted.
Golfers are now able to get back out to play the game they love, but it does not come without an overhaul to operations to ensure the continued health and safety of all.
Elmira Golf Club is one of the local courses that opened to the public over the long weekend, with those who came out to play a round noticing some new rules in place. From pre-booked times only to customers leaving immediately following play, things are changing around the course to maintain safety protocols.
Jeremy Logel, director of golf with the Elmira Golf Club, says these things are necessary and will probably include a phased approach before everything is up and running as normal again.
“You must show up with a tee time … and you are only allowed to show up 15 to 20 minutes prior to that tee time, then our greeter will go through a number of health questions (and) a couple of details and guidelines of our setup,” said Logel. “I want to say that we’re in phase one of golf ourselves. We need to see where this may go, waiting to see some of the protocols that come out from golf Ontario and other key groups.”
He says some of the changes includes having one rider in a golf cart (unless two people could prove they lived in the same home), and only two golf carts are permitted per group. There is a “no touch policy” in place around the course and all objects which would normally be touched regularly have been removed.
The course has also implemented a ‘Pin Caddy’ at each hole that allows players to raise the pin with their putter, so they do not have to touch things with their hands to retrieve their ball.
“There’s a lot of local people involved in this item, it’s kind of a forward thinking and they got it out pretty quick; a number of clubs in the area are using it,” said Logel of the Pin Caddy device. “It’s a nice local idea that they came up with.”
While the course may be open, some things are still closed and will remain that way for some time. Current closures include locker and shower facilities, the golf shop, and deck for sitting and on-course washrooms. Rentals are also not available, so players must show up with their own gear.
Logel encourages anyone who can to walk rather than use a cart, in addition to doing other things to minimize touching while playing the game. He says golf is one of those games where the practice of social distancing can be managed, and other protocols implemented can ensure the game can continue through these times.
“Golf appears to be one of those things that we can make it safe (and) because you are outside there is a great health benefit. We want people to feel safe when they come here and depending on how this goes over the summer there may not be a lot of things people can do,’ said Logel. “We want people to come and enjoy themselves… it’s a great outdoor sport to enjoy some summertime with great people.”