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Opening of courses a breath of fresh air for Manitoba golfers

作者:admin 2020-05-26

On his way out to Selkirk for a socially distanced round of golf with his buddies, Winnipegger Keith Wilson reflected on what the opportunity to do a regular fair-weather activity meant to him.

“This really is my main thing to provide mental relaxation,” Wilson said. “After the winter and given the pandemic, this really is my main break. It’s a total relief. This is my outlet during the COVID.”

Manitoba golf courses were allowed to open on Monday and some did, while managers from others said they intended to open later this week after taking more time to become fully operational.

The courses are taking significant precautions to protect against the potential spread of COVID-19, the deadly illness that has caused shutdowns across the world.

For instance, golfers will be able to watch staff sanitize their pull and motorized carts, will not be allowed to share carts, will not be able to congregate before or after their round, and will not be able to touch flagsticks on the greens.

Courses have removed all sand trap rakes, ball washers, benches, drinking water taps and anything else that might normally be touched by multiple players.

Players bump elbows at the end of their round at Rossmere Golf and Country Club on Watt Street in Winnipeg on Monday. Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network Kevin King / Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun

Some courses are filling the cups on the greens with a foam that prevents the ball from falling any more than an inch inside so it can be easily retrieved, while others have outfitted their cups with a device that allows players to pick up their ball using a lever they can activate with their putter.

“We will do it responsibly,” said Wilson, who normally golfs between 40 and 50 games per year. “No one is riding in my car on the way to the course, no one will be in my golf cart. Most of the guys I golf with will respect the opportunity to be able to do this right now. I know I sure will.”

Among the Winnipeg-area courses that opened Monday were Kildonan Park, Rossmere, St. Boniface, Southwood and Bridges. A person who answered the phone in the pro shop at Kildonan said the course was “packed.”

Rossmere general manager Scott Parker said only 96 people are allowed on the 140-acre course at any time, less than half what would normally be allowed, and other adjustments have been made to make golfers feel safe. Tee times are being spaced 10 minutes apart instead of seven.

“Members have been here for 30 years and have been doing things the same way so we have to teach them something different,” Parker said. “It’s not the easiest thing. It’s not normal but this is the new normal, I guess. Until it eases, this is what it’s going to be like.

“But I think people are ready to do something and if we can provide a safe environment for our guests and staff, I think golf is perfect for that because we have so much space. People just need to have patience right now.”

Out on the course, players had no beefs about new rules, as long as they were getting a chance to swing the sticks.

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