Editor’s comment: This story has been updated to reflect changes made by the Saskatchewan government to its golf course guidelines in its reopening plan.
Golfing will be a little bit different when courses in Saskatchewan are allowed to open starting May 15.
“We’ve got strategies to handle all of our starting points in terms of having employees in place to remind everyone of the new rules and then we are actually going to have our on-course ambassadors in place and enforce the regulations,” said Ron Erikson, general manager of The Willows Golf and Country Club in Saskatoon.
“There’s going to be zero tolerance.”
Precautionary measures were brought in by the province that all courses must follow in order to reopen.
Tee times, which originally had to be 20 minutes apart, can now be 12 minutes apart. Officials said this is to avoid congestion on the course.
Flags must remain in the hole. The original guideline stated cups had to be raised so that balls didn’t have to be retrieved. This has since been updated to include two other measures: levelling the cup or installing a touch-free ball removal mechanism.
Golf Canada says this will not affect handicaps.
“A round played under these conditions will result in an acceptable score for handicap purposes using the most likely score guidelines,” states a post to Golf Canada’s website.
“When using most likely score, the player should consider the number of strokes most likely required to complete the hole and determine whether the ball would have been holed or not. Most likely score is at the player’s best judgment and should not be used to gain an unfair advantage.”
Other changes include no rakes around bunkers, no benches, no ball washers, and only allowing one person per golf cart unless they are from the same residence.
Driving ranges and practice greens, which had to remain closed under the initial plan, can now reopen if physical distancing can be maintained.
Range balls must be cleaned and disinfected between uses, while cups on practice greens must follow the same guidelines as those on the course.
Another change is the use of pull carts and club rentals. Both are now allowed as long as they are extensively cleaned and disinfected after each use by a customer.
“There is going to be a lot more observance and I think that is on us as an industry to have that control so that it’s a not a free-for-all and not a situation where it can be traced back that the golf industry was a bunch of bad actors,” Erikson said.
“You can play with others, or you can play by yourself,” said Golf Saskatchewan executive director Brian Lee.
“Whether you are playing with proper rules or just out for a walk, it can be done and the government has provided that it can be done in a safe manner under the COVID-19 pandemic times.”
Erikson said that it’s important for golf courses across the province to get it right.
“Underlying all of it is the fact that we have to be good stewards of the process so they don’t have to hit the red button again and we have to go back to sticking in our houses,” Erikson said.
“That would be not good.”
One other change to the guidelines allows pro shops to open to the public on May 19, but clubhouses must remain closed with the exception of pro shops and washrooms.View link »