Myles Hutchinson was one of the first golfers off the tee at Mill Woods Golf Course when it opened Tuesday morning.
Staff at the course were out in full force to ensure things ran smoothly under strict new safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re gonna learn a lot from today,” said Mill Woods Golf Club superintendent Todd Paquette. “We’re overstaffed in every area just so we didn’t suddenly go, ‘Uh-oh, we need another person.'”
Sandpiper Golf and Country Club on the other hand is now in the groove after it was one of only a handful of courses that opened up on Saturday, just two days after the Alberta government gave the OK for golfers to hit the links.
“It went very smooth,” said Kevin Easthope, head professional at Sandpiper. “We were prepared, we had all the protocol in place… there’s really no touch points on the whole golf course.”
There’s a lot of different protocols for the courses to make sure players aren’t touching the same surfaces.
The flag stick is a big one, and does offer some variety. At Sandpiper, they’re using raised cups, whereas Mill Woods has decided to put a pool noodle at the bottom of the flag stick so the ball doesn’t go all the way in.
That’s one of the only differences. Every course is mandated to keep their pro shop and clubhouse closed, there are no ball washers or rakes in the sand, you just get a free move from the sand trap.
All players are required to take their own sanitized cart, unless two players are from the same household; while on the course, players must maintain social distancing.
It will be an adjustment period for the players who are used to the common idiosyncrasies of golf.
“When we were kind of figuring out what to do, there was a couple of times when I reached out to touch the flag,” said Paquette. “It’s just a habit that you have to break… we’ll just have to keep reminding people.”