Golfers in the Quesnel community are pulling their clubs out of storage and working on their swings as the two local golf courses are getting ready to open soon with added safety precautions due to COVID-19.
The Quesnel Golf Club and Richbar Nursery Golf and Gardens courses in Quesnel have opened for the season, while Cresta Luna Country Golf plans to have its course open by the May long weekend.
A media release from British Columbia Golf sent out on April 20 outlines the importance of clubs implementing health and safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With over 300 golf courses in all areas of the province, it is critical that all golf operations in British Columbia immediately align with COVID-19 orders, direction and safety protocols mandated by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and regional health authorities,” states the release. “Where governments have not mandated the temporary closure of golf courses, such as in B.C., golf operators choosing to open must take every health and safety precaution for their team members and customers.”
All 18 holes, along with the driving range, at the Quesnel Golf Club (QGC) are currently open to the public, and QGC manager Leslie Johnson explains that the club has taken significant steps to ensure the safety of its patrons.
“The front and the back nine are open, with lots and lots of changes, of course,” said Johnson. “Individual use for the golf carts unless you are a spouse, of course we’ve got all the social distancing signs up, and everyone has been great with social distancing. Inside the clubhouse, we have got all the six-foot parametres marked off, and only three people are allowed in the clubhouse at a time.”
On the course, changes have been made to limit patrons’ interaction with “high-touch” areas, explains Johnson.
“The greenskeepers have elevated the flagsticks so your ball doesn’t go in the hole, so no one is touching any of the flagsticks or anything like that,” said Johnson. “Also, there are no rakes in the sand traps, and we have removed all the ball washers on the course as well.”
The QGC has also closed all the course washrooms; however, the washrooms in the clubhouse remain open and are being sanitized every 45 minutes throughout the day.
In order to keep traffic a the clubhouse down, the QGC has been encouraging golfers to book their tee times online or over the phone. The club is not offering sit-down food and beverage service; however, so far this season, Johnson says their carry-out food service has been a hit.
“We are doing take-out food, and it has been working out really well,” said Johnson. “I put some signage up on the seventh hole, and if you want snacks, you phone me and I have it ready for you as you are going through nine to go to the 10th hole — so they just come in, grab their snack and then they are off to the back nine.”
At this point in time, the QGC will not be offering club rentals; however, as an incentive for community members to get outside and enjoy a round of golf, the club is offering 10 per cent off all memberships purchased before May 31.
The Richbar Nursery Golf and Gardens (RNGG) course has opened and is also putting health and safety measures in place to protect its patrons and staff, says owner Roy Josephy.
“We are spacing out tee times a little bit and sticking with a maximum of four people per group,” says Josephy. “There will be no shared carts unless you are from the same household, and we are turning our cups upside down so people don’t have to reach into the cups for their ball or touch the flagsticks, and we will also be posting signs to remind everybody to keep their distance from each other, which is pretty easy to do on a golf course.”
Josephy says that he wasn’t sure what the golf season was going to look like this year, but he is happy to be open for the community and will continue to monitor and implement safety protocols recommend by the government. Currently, the RNGG clubhouse is closed, except for access to the washroom, as the course washrooms have been closed, and rentals will not be available.
“Honestly, two or three weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what the situation was going to be, and I can’t say I’m sure what the situation is going to be tomorrow,” said Josephy. “At this point, we know the clubhouse won’t be open for at least two weeks — and that will depend of course on regulations again.”
The Richbar Garden Centre, which falls under the list of essential service providers, is open from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week and has implemented several safety measures to protect its patrons. In order to minimize the number of customers at a given time, the garden centre is asking that individuals who are able please shop during weekdays, as weekends are their busiest time.
The Cresta Luna Country Golf (CLCG) course still has snow on its greens, but owners Stan and Dawn Barz are paying close attention to what other courses in the region are doing and plan on having all the proper safety protocols in place when they open their course on the May long weekend.
“We’ve been listening to what’s been going on, and we aren’t 100 per cent sure; we haven’t set any ground rules yet,” said Dawn Barz. “I have heard from other golf courses that they are not allowing rentals at all and keeping cart rentals to one person per cart — we are looking at all of these avenues, but we haven’t implemented any of them yet, as we do still have a month before we open, and we are going to listen to the rules of the roost as to what comes out through the government as well, of course.”
A popular attraction at the CLCG that will not be available during the COVID-19 pandemic is the Mexican Cantina, says Barz.
“One thing we will not be having until this is over is we will not be offering the Mexican Cantina kitchen until COVID is over — so with no kitchen or anything, I won’t be staffing anyone — I’ll just be here myself to oversee it,” said Barz.
Anyone interested in booking a tee time or learning more about the precautions being taken by local golf courses can contact the Quesnel Golf Club at 250-249-5550 or quesnelgolfclub.ca, the Richbar Nursery Golf and Gardens at 250-255-4653 or richbargolfandgardens.com and Cresta Luna Country Golf at 250-249-5069 or through their Facebook page.