Local golf course ready to swing into action, as soon as Ontario allows it
In Ontario, courses can begin preparing for the season but are not open to public
As the provincial government prepares for a partial reopening of the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one favourite pastime was added to that list — golf courses are allowed to prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public.
Golfers in Windsor-Essex usually have an advantage over those in many other parts of Ontario as courses here are often ready for play weeks before they are elsewhere, because of the favourable climate.
One local course owner is ready to tee off, as soon as the government allows it.
"We are ready this morning," said Isaac Friesen, owner of Orchard View Golf Course in Ruthven. "We have our fingers crossed right now."
Friesen said tensions have been running high for him and staff who have been anxiously awaiting news that they can get back to work. Part of his staff returned last week, after that was permitted by the province, to start getting the course ready for the public.
"We've been working diligently to try to open the golf course," he said. "It's been hard. If you can imagine we were basically a six- or seven-month business and we lost two months of that."
Fertilizing and green preparation begins in the fall, explained Friesen, so it's especially hard not to have money coming in during spring to recoup that spending.
"You can't plan on anything if you don't know if the sun is going to come up tomorrow," said Friesen. "We're just hoping for good weather in the spring and fall and we'll see. It's going to be hard for everybody."
Game will look a little different
As the staff get ready to welcome people back on the greens, Friesen said golfers can expect some small changes to the game when and if they do return.
Fewer people will be allowed on the course and will have to wear masks to play, he said.
"We're doing all kinds of things to make sure our facility is safe," said Friesen.
Patio tables have been removed so people will not congregate and sanitization stations have been set up all over the course.
For the game itself, Friesen said people will be discouraged from touching the pin or the cup at each hole.
The cup on each green will be raised slightly so that balls will hit them, rather than falling in, so people will not have to touch the pin or cup at all after putting.
Marshalls, who are usually on the course anyway, will have the added responsibility of ensuring people are physically distancing and following proper safety protocols.
"We will be more aware and make our staff aware they need to be out there, guiding people and marshalling people," said Friesen.