PEI

P.E.I. golf courses in 'holding pattern' weeks before start of season

P.E.I. golf course owners say they're waiting on guidance from Island public health officials to determine when they'll be able to open and whether there'll be restrictions in place once they do. 

'Even if golf does get a go-ahead, will there be food and beverage? Will there be drive carts?"

Golf P.E.I. expects if courses do open this season, they may need to do so without flags, rakes and other commonly touched items. (CBC )

P.E.I. golf course owners say they're waiting on guidance from Island public health officials to determine when they'll be able to open and whether there'll be restrictions in place once they do. 

According to Golf P.E.I., courses have been ordered to stay closed until May 12th at the earliest. That's right around the time many usually open for the season. 

"Everybody's just kind of in a waiting game I guess," said Kris Currie, the owner of Countryview Golf Club. "We're in a holding pattern.... It's a little uneasy for sure."

Kris Currie, the owner of Countryview Golf Club, says with so much uncertainty around the golf season, his club has sold very few memberships. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Currie says with so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and the golf season, most local golfers are holding off buying memberships. 

He says that's already creating financial stress. 

"I have 10 new drive carts coming, there's some equipment coming, you have all your merchandise you booked last fall," he said.

"So there's some big financial bills coming for the first of May, and with no membership money coming in, a lot of golf courses will see a crunch for sure."

No rakes or flags? 

Mark McLane, the executive director of Golf P.E.I., said he hopes courses will eventually open this season. 

He expects, however, there will need to be restrictions in place, aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. 

"You know, maybe there's only one person in the golf cart, [you have to] pay online, there's no rakes, no flags to minimize touch contact," said McLane. 

"There's been courses throughout the world that have stayed open through the preliminary stages and have put those protocols in place. So we're not creating anything new here. When we open, each course will ensure, like a grocery store or pharmacy these days, here's how we're going to operate. Here's the new norm for now."

Golf P.E.I. executive director Mark McLane expects golf business will take a hit this summer, particularly with travel restrictions in place around the world. (CBC)

But even if courses do open, McLane expects golf business will take a hit this season. 

He said many Island courses depend heavily on tourists for bookings. With travel restrictions in place around the world, it's unclear how many of those tourists will even be allowed to visit P.E.I. this summer. 

"We understand our long-haul business will certainly be down this year," said McLane. "We'll focus from a marketing perspective on the drive market as we call it. That 10-12 hour radius will be our primary focus when the doors open again."

Staffing uncertainty 

McLane says much of P.E.I.'s golf advertising has been put on hold for now. 

According to Currie, it's the same story with hiring staff at Countryview. 

"Even if golf does get a go-ahead, will there be food and beverage? Will there be drive carts? Will there be merchandise sales? Will it just be in and out, online [booking] only?" said Currie.

"So until we figure out all the guidelines set in place for golf, that will dictate how much staff we'll be able to take on."

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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