There has never been a directive from the provincial health officer to close golf courses due to COVID-19, but most on the Island did anyway after BC Golf chief executive officer Kris Jonasson sent a letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry requesting the closure of all B.C. golf courses in late March.
It’s generally been regarded golf is no different than other activities that have been allowed to continue because of the social distance of players. Many course officials have now made some necessary safety changes to feel comfortable about resuming play again.
The Mount Brenton Golf Course in Chemainus closed on March 24 after a board of directors decision, but has implemented certain procedures to allow play to proceed again.
“We are going to open the golf course effective this Friday (April 17) for members and the following Monday, April 20 to members and guests,” said president Art Kendall.
He added there has been considerable consultation with provincial health care officials and local politicians like North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring before arriving at the decision.
“There seems to be support for the golf industry if they observe safety protocols,” noted Kendall.
Nearby courses in Duncan – Cowichan Golf and Country Club and Duncan Meadows Golf Course – have already opened up within the last few days, making it a bit of a foregone conclusion that Mount Brenton would follow suit.
Strict measures have been imposed “to make sure people don’t pool up in groups,” Kendall indicated.
The feeling is small groups of two to four people should be able to maintain social distance.
“If they come and head out on the course and when they finish they head out and leave, it’s no different than walking on the Trans-Canada Trail or whatever,” Kendall reasoned.
“It’s a good way to get out and get some distance and it’s a good activity in your life.”
The practice area and putting green will remain closed.
The game will play a bit differently in the interim, with raised cups rather than anyone having to pick up their ball.
“It just hits it,” said Kendall. “Your ball bounces off of it and you pick up your ball.”
There will also be no need to remove the flag.
“Do not touch the flag stick,” stressed Kendall. “It’s permanently in.”
Golf carts are limited to one person, unless it’s a couple from the same household sharing a cart.
Golf has been in a grey area from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak about whether courses needed to be shut down or not, but Mount Brenton executive members opted to be safe rather than sorry.
“Most of us decided to jump in and take the conservative route until we had the information that led us elsewhere,” Kendall pointed out.
Most are now satisfied there won’t be a problem if everyone abides by the new guidelines for play. If not, courses could be shut down again promptly.
“You’ll be guided by your own behaviours,” warned Kendall.