Everything you need to know before hitting Sask.’s reopened golf courses in May

Those itching to hit the course and work on their golf game in Saskatchewan won’t have much longer to wait. Golf courses will be among the first businesses to reopen under the province’s newly announced five-phase reopening plan.

Golf courses are included in Phase 1 of the plan, which was unveiled Thursday, and are permitted to operate as of May 15. This comes as COVID-19 case numbers decline in the province. 

“We’re very excited to be in the first phases,” said McLaren Taylor, general manager of the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club. 

Taylor says businesses will see golfers on their courses only about a week later than the usual start of a season.

Before you pack your clubs, here are all the rules you won’t want to fore-get.

Following the new golf rules begins before even leaving the house. If you want to hit the golf course, you must have a tee time booked, and pay ahead online or by phone. Walk-up players will be turned away.

Before your tee time, skip that second cup of coffee. All washroom facilities on golf courses — aside from clubhouse washrooms — must remain closed to players and the public.

And if you’re thinking, “that may be a problem because of my traditional golfing beers” — not to worry. All food and beverage service is suspended on courses. Drink and snack carts are not allowed to operate, so beer time will have to wait until you get home.

Before starting your game, make sure you change your footwear in the course parking lot. Golf course locker rooms will be closed. 

If you want to rent a golf cart, that’s allowed — but you must drive it alone, unless you’re with someone from your household. Golf courses must keep everything sanitized. 

Golfers must maintain a minimum two-metre distance between themselves and others on the course, in keeping with COVID-19 physical distancing recommendations. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Some things on the course will look a little different. The province stipulates that all rakes and ball washers must be removed from courses. Driving ranges, along with practice putting and chipping greens, must remain closed.

“Most of the things on the list were expected,” said Taylor.

“We would have hoped to get our driving range and practice areas open. But we’ll wait and see on that. We’ll be happy when it comes.”

Game changer

The biggest change for golfers may be that the goal is no longer to get a ball into the hole — in fact, that’s not allowed under the new rules.

To reduce the number of surfaces people touch, flags must remain in place and cups will have to be elevated, so the ball does not drop into the hole. You will know your play is finished when the ball makes contact with the cup.

Taylor says that the adjustment to the game may create a bit of a grey area around who is winning.

“It maybe makes it a little bit questionable as to whether the ball really would have gone in the hole or not. But I think this year, our golfers will just be happy to get out and swing the clubs.”

To keep crowds to a minimum, private and group lessons, league play and tournaments will not be allowed. And golfers must maintain a minimum two-metre distance between themselves and others on the course. 

To enforce the new rules, Taylor says his club is looking at several options, including having members sign a waiver form, or adding supervision on the golf course and around the clubhouse area.

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