Nova Scotia

Award-winning Cape Breton golf courses hope for another banner year, despite COVID-19

The Cabot Cliffs and Links courses in Inverness, N.S., are set to open in less than a month, although it's unclear if and when restrictions will be lifted.

'Throughout these uncertain times it's a bit tricky to forecast exactly when we're open'

The Cabot Cliffs golf course attracts golfers from around the world. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

A season full of question marks — that's what the general manager of popular Cape Breton golf courses is saying heading into the 2020 season.

Andrew Alkenbrack said course preparation is well underway at the Cabot Links and Cliffs courses in Inverness, N.S., with development still underway for a par 3 course, the Nest, which is expected to open this summer.

On their booking website, the courses are scheduled to welcome players starting May 8, but Alkenbrack admits he is unsure what will happen over the next month.

"Throughout these uncertain times it's a bit tricky to forecast exactly when we're open," he said. "I don't know exactly where we'll land in terms of how we alter our programming here as we look to May 8 and beyond."

When Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency last month, it ordered all golf courses in the province closed as of March 23. 

Alkenbrack said work is still underway to get the course prepared for its eventual opening day.

Golfers have already started calling staff at the golf courses asking if they will open next month. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The Cabot golf courses have gained international appeal and have a staff of nearly 650 during the peak summer months.

Earlier this week, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, indicated courses are allowed to have people doing maintenance and preparation while practising physical distancing.

Strang said public health officials would look at relaxing those restrictions eventually, but indicated that might not happen until May or June.

Alkenbrack hopes golf will be able to proceed with some lighter restrictions, saying the game has the advantage of being played in large outdoor areas, rather than in a stadium.

"As we look across the region, I think we can all find comfort in the fact that this will end and we'll get back at it as soon as we're able," he said.

Course preparation is well underway at the Cabot Links and Cliffs courses, with development still underway for a par 3 course, the Nest, which is expected to open this summer. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Alkenbrack said the courses are on track for another banner year, adding most players are calling not to cancel their rounds, but instead asking how course conditions are and if the season is slated to begin on time.

"We're all in it together and I think particularly here in Inverness. I think you can see and you can sense the fact that, you know, that everybody's in the same boat and we're all sort of pulling in the same direction."

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