Golf courses hoping for hole-in-one following success of 2020 season

With one pandemic summer now under their belt, Pat Guitar says preparing for this season was easier than the last for the Willows in Holyrood.

Planning for new season 'a bit easier' with one pandemic summer finished, manager says

Signs like this one are posted all over the Willows Golf Course in Holyrood. After a successful 2020 season, golf operations manager Pat Guitar says the 2021 season is off to a fast start. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The first round of golf is a welcome sign of spring in Newfoundland and Labrador, with the people running the courses hoping to continue the pandemic boom of last summer.

Pat Guitar, golf operations manager of the Willows in Holyrood, said the course saw its best-ever season in 2020 and is off to a fast start since reopening in March. 

"Everyone after having a tough winter was excited to get out. We've been flat out since we've opened up.… Even when the weather's not nice, we've had people on the course," she said Sunday.

Guitar said the success of the 2020 season was driven by people's desire to get outdoors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when golf was one of the few sports that could be played while following physical distancing.

With one pandemic summer now under their belt, she said, preparing for this season was easier than if was last year.

"Last year, we were the first golf course on the island that opened under the COVID guidelines and it was new to everybody," she said. "This year it was a little bit easier because we've had the experience of last year."

The province's COVID-19 regulations for golf courses remain largely untouched from the beginning of the pandemic, including practising physical distancing and wearing masks wherever possible, limiting the number of people on the course and removing touchpoints like ball cleaners and flag sticks.

Walk-on play is not allowed under the provincial regulations, and golf carts can be shared only by people within a household or bubble.

Gary Oke, general manager of the Humber Valley Resort Golf Club near Pasadena, says he hopes their golf course can open by the middle of May. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Although people on the Avalon Peninsula are getting the chance to hit the links, golfers on Newfoundland's west coast may have to wait just a little bit longer.

Gary Oke, general manager of the Humber Valley Resort Golf Club in Little Rapids, said the club is shooting for a May opening.

Oke said he hopes to continue the momentum from last season, which brought staycationers from across the province to the west coast.

"We're kind of hoping that it's going to be the same thing this year, that we're going to get a lot of internal traffic," he said.

"Outdoor snowmobiling and skiing was OK this year, but to get back on the golf course, I think everybody's anxious to get out in the fresh air and have some outdoor activities."

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Alex Kennedy


Alex Kennedy is a digital reporter with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador based in Corner Brook. He previously worked with CBC N.L. in St. John's, and has a particular interest in stories about sports and interesting people.