Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, gave the green light to golf courses in the province to reopen as of Saturday May 16th. The golf industry certainly rejoiced upon hearing this news, as the province finally moved into phase one of reopening the economy while we still battle against the deadly effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
I’ve already had the privilege of playing four 18 hole rounds at my home club, the wonderful Lookout Point CC in Fonthill and also played a delightful 9 hole round with my son Evan at Brock Golf Course, a local pitch and putt that is open to the public.
There are strict protocols in place at both courses I’ve visited and it’s obvious that the safety of their clientele and their staff is of paramount importance during these uncertain times.
At Lookout, you can’t arrive until about 25 minutes before your tee time. You are directed to the bag drop upon arrival, where a greeter ensures you are on the tee sheet and confirms that you’ve signed off on a declaration form that stipulates the rules of engagement while at the club.
From there, you can park your car, grab your clubs and head to the range for a quick 10 minute warmup, after which you can head to the putting green near the first tee for a few putts before teeing off.
Walking is encouraged but the club added about 15-20 carts to their fleet to ensure everyone would be taken care of. There is only one rider per cart, unless you are playing with a member of your family that lives in the same household.
There are no rakes in the bunkers and no ball washers but you can hole your putts at Lookout, thanks to an ingenious device called the Pin Caddy, where a metal lever can be lifted with your putter to extract your ball from the hole in touchless fashion.
A marshal is employed to drive around to make sure groups are respecting the social distancing mandates and also keeping the pace, two things that have not been an issue whatsoever thus far.
At Brock, things are a little bit different by necessity, as it’s a public facility and as a result, their pro shop is open in order to collect green fees.
Brock is using the pool noodle system on the greens – this was certainly fun for my son, as he made a birdie and two pars during our round, absolutely rattling the noodle in each case. None of those shots would have a chance of falling into the cup during normal times but it made for an incredibly enjoyable experience with my 11 year old.
Both golf courses have been completely packed every day since opening. Even Brock, where you can traditionally just show up without a tee time and normally get out within 20 minutes, had a packed tee sheet and only two openings for twosomes for the entire day on Saturday.
Golf is pretty much the only sport going right now and you can see families taking full advantage.
I’ve felt comfortable and very safe during all of my games thus far. I haven’t gone into the clubhouse at Lookout as of yet (they are offering “Grab and Go” sandwiches and drinks at the turn) but I expect to take advantage soon.
My game has been incredibly good to start the season, all things considered. In my Lookout rounds, I have two rounds of 80, a 79 and a shocking even par 72, one where I made six birdies but unfortunately three-putted the last to lose my subpar round.
But honestly, the good scores are just icing on the cake. The ability to get back out and enjoy the game I love with friends and my family is something I will never take for granted again.