Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/4/2020 (307 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Local golfers are less than a week away from being able to yell ‘Fore!’
The Manitoba government announced Wednesday golf courses and driving ranges across the province have been given the green light to open for the season on May 4, albeit under strict guidelines. Playgrounds, skate parks, tennis courts and other similar recreation facilities can also reopen if people can maintain a distance of at least two metres.
According to Guido Cerasani, the president of Shooters Family Golf Centre on Main Street, people aren’t wasting time taking advantage of the opportunity to hit the links, even with it being a pandemic.
"As soon as they announced it this morning, our phone has not stopped ringing," he said. "People are booking tee times."
But for Shooters and other courses to open up, they have to play by the rules. The guidelines require golfers to be screened over the phone when booking a tee time and to prevent anyone from teeing off if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Only one person is allowed per golf cart, although two players who live in the same household can ride together. Items such as ball-washing stations and water fountains must be closed off or removed from the courses, while flagsticks must remain in the hole at all times. The clubhouse restaurants are also required to play by the same rules as other restaurants.
The Saskatchewan government is holding off until May 15 for their courses to open, but their driving ranges will remain closed. Saskatchewan is enforcing stricter guidelines as well, such as having raised cups, which means there’s no hole to putt your ball into, and no washroom access or food and beverage services. Players also have to pay before they get to the course, whereas in Manitoba, the guidelines state "Cashless or no-contact payment should be used to the greatest extent possible."
St. Charles Country Club general manager Cameron Gray said he was thrilled to hear what Manitoba had planned for golf compared to the "restrictive environment" the golf courses in Saskatchewan are dealing with. Gray didn’t think the local golf community would get the stamp of approval until mid-May or possibly even June.
"It appears Manitoba has created their own made-in-Manitoba solution for what will work best in this province and it’s something I believe all golf courses can reasonably work with," Gray said. "Absolutely (the guidelines) are doable and appropriate under the current circumstances we’re all working and living within. They’ve provided what I perceive to be very reasonable guidelines that will be able to be accommodated."
However, not all golf facilities will be welcoming customers by Monday. Several courses around town declined to comment on how close they are to having their courses meet all the guidelines.
Cerasani said his family-run business will be ready to go and he’s already taken extra measures to keep people safe. After sinking a putt at Shooters, golfers can use their putter to pull up a lever on the flagstick that will pop out their ball.
He said they won’t be messing around.
"The policy is going to be one and done. If you break the rules and you’re caught, there are no second chances, you have to leave the property," Cerasani said.
"We don’t want to jeopardize our business because somebody is cavalier... I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want my staff to get sick. My family all works here. It’s a family business. We’ve worked so hard and kept the restaurant going during lockdown and it’s been good, so we just want to make sure everyone understands (the rules)."
Tennis clubs will be following many of the same rules, but there will be additional measures such as players only allowed to handle their own tennis balls, no doubles play and keeping clubhouses closed.
"This is a massive step for not only the local tennis community but all citizens in Manitoba as the easement on restrictions signifies progress in the fight against the dreadful coronavirus we’ve been forced to deal with," said Tennis Manitoba executive director Mark Arndt.
"I feel we’ve constructed solid guidelines that allow Manitobans to enjoy the sport of tennis in a safe environment."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.