If there is one activity tailor made to ensure easy compliance with social distancing recommendations during the pandemic, it’s golf. That fact became quite evident when golf courses were one of the first public activities allowed to re-open when provinces began easing restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Getting ready to re-open wasn’t a complicated process for most golf facilities, where regular protocols are always in place to help stagger groups of people from entering the course at the same time.
“We felt right from the get-go that golf in general, even with the emergency shut-down, that golf was going to be one of the first businesses permitted,” said Gary Ward, General Manager/Chief Operating Office at Mad River Golf Club. “That’s because of the way we’re able to control everyone coming onto the golf course and how safe that makes everyone feel. It’s safer than going for a walk in the park or on a trail. At any given time, your hundreds of yards away from everyone except the people you’re golfing with.”
According to Ward, Mad River set up a task force in early March to set specific guidelines that would allow golfers to comply with provincial protocols while playing. After consulting with other golf associations across the country, Mad River developed a list of best practices now being implemented to ensure staff and member safety. These include a strict arrival time, 10 minutes of warm-up on the driving range, 10 minutes on the putting green and then direct to the first tee.
“It’s quite structured and coordinated with respect to how many people are here at any one time,” said Ward. “Once you get to the golf course we’ve removed all the touch points. You don’t touch the flag, you don’t touch the rakes. There’s no ball washers, no water stations - none of those things. When you tee off you don’t touch anything other than your own equipment until you finish the round. You proceed to car and head home.”
Additional measures include providing staff with personal protective equipment including gloves, masks, face shields and sanitizer. “It’s safe for the staff, it’s safe for the members,” said Ward. “It really provides an environment where everyone’s comfortable.”
Beyond the enhanced measures making the course safe for golfers, Ward said the game itself is a great way to mitigate the stress and uncertainty people are feeling these days. As facility manager, Ward says he’s seeing more families and kids coming to the course to interact and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors. That’s particularly easy at Mad River Golf Club, which is located on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment in scenic Creemore.
“It’s a wonderful place in the midst of nature, with no homes around the golf course,” said Ward. “Just a beautiful natural golf course with spectacular topography and amazing views surrounded by wildlife. From some areas on the back nine you can see Georgian Bay. It’s a world class facility.”
To find out more, visit madriver.ca or call (705) 428-3673.