Professional golf associations have submitted a request to the government that golf be one of the first industries approved once pandemic restrictions are eased.
Five professional golf associations in the province have come together to create the Saskatchewan Allied Associations to help golf courses apply the safety measures they believe will be necessary when the sport starts up again.
Brad Vinnick, general manager and head golf professional at Greenbryre Golf and Country Club, said he thinks golf courses will be one of the first recreational activities up and running “because you can do so many things in a positive direction on social distancing and having it being safe for everybody.”
The golfing industry generates $446 million in gross domestic product in Saskatchewan and employs 17,000 people, according to the Saskatchewan Allied Golf Association.
Organizations that are part of the Saskatchewan Allied Associations are the Canadian Society of Club Managers, Golf Saskatchewan, National Golf Course Owners Association Canada, PGA of Canada, Saskatchewan Zone and Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association.
Greens empty for now
Across the province, golf courses are starting preparations for the 2020 season but the greens will remain empty of golfers until the government gives the green light.
“Every spring, we do have things to do to get started and in a lot of ways we’re doing some of those things out on the golf course but obviously with COVID-19 we’ve got health authority orders of being shut down,” said Ron Erikson, general manager at the Willows Golf Club.
He said there will be strict safety guidelines in place once the sport starts up again.
“The best way of putting it is every touchpoint from the parking lot through the course to the facility back to the parking lot is going to be looked at,” Erikson said.
Measures could include cleaning all of the possible touch points from ball washes to flag sticks, only taking credit or debit cards, spacing out tee time check-ins, and limiting one person to a cart.
In Saskatoon, golf courses would have been looking at a later opening date this season anyway due to the late snows in April. If they could open, Vinnick said that date would have been around the end of the month.
At Greenbryre Golf and Country Club, work is going forward to prepare the greens but it’s being done with reduced staffing, and the Greenbryre restaurant has been closed down completely.
“Hopefully we can get the economy back to some normality in life and people can enjoy Saskatchewan summer.”