Golf Operations in the COVID-19 Era

Saturday, May 16th marked the first day of the golf season in Ontario. It was an exciting day as the 2M Ontarian golfers in Ontario got the opportunity to choose, whether or not to play golf.

The first day of golf in Ontario also marked my first day back to a golf course where I’ve commenced my third season. Scenic Woods Golf Club is a golf course near Hamilton, Ontario that’s operated by GolfNorth Properties. GolfNorth Properties operates and manages 32 golf courses from coast to coast. Including the newly added Salmon Arm in British Columbia, The Ridge at Manitou (Ontario), and Cape Breton Highlands Links in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

It was nice to be in the Pro Shop first thing this morning greeting and welcoming members and guests back to the game that we love. All in all, the day ran pretty smoothly, other than a couple of system-related issues. We had a crammed tee sheet. From the first tee time available from 8:00 am until 6:45 pm there wasn’t a tee time to be had. Opening day with stellar weather, are you kidding me? I don’t even know if there was a cloud in the sky after the morning fog was penetrated and burned off by the sunshine.

One thing however, became readily apparent. From a golf operations standpoint, the COVID-19/Pandemic era has brought a different feel to the game. Watching our Starter’s sanitizing golf carts with with a sprayer like you’re spraying weed killer was sort of surreal. Policing, ensuring that people are social-distancing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces hourly (bathroom doors, etc), golf carts routinely only having one rider (and asking if golfers are from the same household), controlling washroom traffic, watching four carts roll down a fairway as a foursome and so much more. It’s all so very different in 2020.

The weirdest thing for me, however, is having to wear rubber gloves (it just feels odd to type with them). For my second shift, I’ll be donning a mask and being a high-risk individual. Therefore, it’s my responsibility to exercise my due diligence because the exposure rate to people is still quite high. Actually, not being able to shake anyone’s hands to welcome them back due to social-distancing is weirder yet. The latter being due to the fact that I’m a very engaging person.

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A packed tee sheet equated to no golf today for me. And that’s okay.

Right now, there’s a real learning curve for golfers and staff members alike. Our clubhouse layout is almost tailor-made to handle the check-in process. You enter the main entrance, pay at the lounge/bar terminal instead of the Pro Shop, and inform the customer to exit out through the lounge door behind them. One-way traffic. At one point, I jokingly stated that I felt like a flight attendant and instructed as such. “You have one exit to exit the clubhouse. This exit is directly behind you.” complete with hand gestures. There were a lot of corrections as far as reminding people about where to exit after it was explained, but like I said It’s a learning curve and we’re creatures of habit. But we’ll get it. Dare I say it, this is going to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

Upon the conclusion of my shift, I had plans to play my first holes of the year. That failed to happen as there was nowhere for me to squeeze in. That’s quite okay though. Today was really about the members and paid public players getting out to do what they love best. It was just great to see a full tee sheet and a full parking lot. Sunday will see me get on the course after my shift. It’s supposed to rain, and even if I only play a few holes, that’s perfect for me. I’ll be golfing.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay vigilant.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

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