Every season is a new beginning as golfers change a grip, stance or swing in an attempt to perfect that silly game of hitting the small white ball from a tee box and into the cup on the green.
However, this season promises to be a little, actually a lot, different due to the COVID-19 coronavirus — the pandemic that has put a major crimp in the way society functions with more than 3 Million cases worldwide.
Which is why before opening for the 2020 season, Granite Pointe staff is taking some major precautions to provide a safe environment for members as well as practicing social distancing to guard against the spread of the pandemic in the Heritage City.
The first change is course play for the start of the season — set for May 4, weather permitting — is reserved for members and guests as Granite Pointe attempts to provide a safe outlet as the community continues self-isolation.
“We're going to keep it reserved to locals . . . we’re not trying to capture any out of town players,” said Toni Graci, Grounds Superintendent and Golf Operations Manager at Granite Pointe.
Graci is working with his wife Jackie to head up the front lines staff at the 6,209-yard, Par 72, 18-hole course located in Rosemont.
“We’re trying to provide services for our local members that we have been serving for years so the course will be open only to members and guests.”
Granite Pointe is joining many courses throughout the province opening up operations to members only with strict guidlines around maintaining social distance while not touching anything other than the player’s bag, clubs, tee or balls.
With most fitness and recreations facilities closed in response to physical distancing and hygiene requirements, the outdoors have been spared as people flock to the mountain bike trails, parks, walkways and even up-opened golf courses to take advantage of the open spaces.
Some courses in the warmer climates of the province were forced to close after opening during the first days when the BC Government issued a state of emergency in mid-March. But those courses, under the model of with very tight restrictions on how the game is to be played, have now reopened.
Granite Pointe is eager to join those courses, which includes locally, Balfour Golf Club — starting up Friday, May 1 with restrictions — along with Christina Lake and Birchbank near Trail, also offering golf to only to course members.
“We’re seeing on some days up to 100 people walking on the course,” Graci said, who has been busy prepping the course for the past month. “When we open, we’ll have the ability to police the players . . . to a maximum of 50 golfers at one time.”
Graci added that volunteers will be monitoring cars entering the parking lot so there is no bottleneck of vehicles as well as signage will be posted on all entrances and appropriate locations on the course reinforcing the importance of social distancing at greens and tee boxes.
Some of the other changes instituted include advance tee time booking, increasing tee time intervals to 20 minutes apart, restricting carts to a single occupant, alleviating the touching of green flags through the practice of a raised cup allowing the golfer to complete a successful putt by striking the protruding cup.
Interior Health said golf courses do not fall under those businesses those specifically named in the Provincial Health Officer or the Medical Health Officer orders and can continue to operate provided operations follow provincial direction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
These changes include:
- excluding employees and customers who have travelled in the last 14 days
- excluding employees and customers who are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19
- not allowing people to congregate in groups
- maintaining social distancing
- cleaning and sanitizing common touched surfaces often
- signage to remind people of the requirements, encourage good handwashing and respiratory hygiene
- ensuring washrooms remain available for use, are cleaned/sanitized a couple of times a day and are well stocked.
“Dr. Bonnie Henry encourages people to exercise individually and in places that are not busy,” the emailed release from IH said.
Which Graci believes Granite Pointe is accomplishing by putting place all of those requirements by Interior Health.
“We’re offering no promotions to attract out-of-town guests,” Graci said. “We’re just looking to provide a safe place to play for own members.”