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Golf courses open for the season

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With the Manitoba government announcing they would ease some restrictions to allow some businesses to open yesterday, golf courses across the province stepped it up in their preparations for the coming season.
Although they will still have to follow certain guidelines, the Dauphin Lake Golf Club (DLGC) and Gilbert Plains Country Club (GPCC) both opened their doors yesterday.
Ray Karlson, general manager of the DLGC, thought Manitoba would mirror Saskatchewan in not opening until May 15.
“That’s the information I was giving the members and whoever was inquiring about it,” he said, adding the warm weather coinciding with the announcement made for a good combination.
The rules for operating during the pandemic are clear, Karlson said, adding it will be hard.
“We’ve just got to be consistent with it. And that’s sterilization of carts and sterilization of doors and door knobs and washrooms and all that stuff. So we’re going to have to be pretty diligent in making sure that gets done,” he said.
The restaurant opens for pickup on Friday, Karlson said, but the restaurant operators were thrilled to learn patios would be allowed to be open.
“So we can safely sit 20 or 30 people on our patio with the social distancing,” he said.
DLGC was holding its earlybird membership drive and Karlson was hoping for a big run on memberships leading up to Monday’s opening.
“Now is the time for everybody to get out here and get their membership,” he said, adding he is looking forward to getting the season underway.
Karlson added they will look at getting their men’s club league going on time.
“With the rules we’re going to put in place, we’re going to be able to keep everybody separated and get that started on time, which is usually the third Wednesday in May,” he said.
Scott McCallum, general manager and golf professional at GPCC, said staff were eagerly waiting to hear what the government was going to say.
“And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we were shocked that they were going to allow us to open on the fourth,” he said, adding GPCC would probably have opened this weekend under normal circumstances.
“So were not that far off a normal year, right now,” he said.
Staff at GPCC have been working hard over the last couple of weeks getting the course ready to open.
“I think people are going to be very impressed with how the golf course looks when they come,” McCallum said, adding the course wintered well.
Initially, courses will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity, which should not affect business too much, McCallum said.
Customers will be screened before being allowed onto the course. Golfers will have to call ahead to book a tee time and no walkons will be allowed.
“And, obviously, asking people on the phone if they’ve had any symptoms before they come to the golf course,” McCallum added.
“And there will be no rakes in the bunkers. Our staff is going to groom the bunkers daily, though, so that will be a new thing this year. Ball washers will be removed. We’re going to be taking all the precautions that we can take, like every other business. Hand sanitizers at all the entrances and exits.”
Inserts have been added to each hole so the ball does not fall to the bottom, making it easier for golfers to retrieve their balls without touching the flags, which McCallum said cannot be removed this year.
Only one person per cart is allowed unless you live in the same household, McCallum noted.
“It will be a little different from the way we operate, but I think people are just going to be grateful to be outside,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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