Southeast Saskatchewan is a golfer’s haven, with six well-maintained courses all within close proximity for area golfers, with four 9-hole facilities located in Carlyle, Redvers, Carnduff, and Moose Creek Regional Park and 18-hole courses at Moose Mountain Provincial Park, and the ever challenging White Bear Golf Course at White Bear Resort.
This is the time of year the course superintendents are very busy taking careful watch to see the courses are ready to open as the weather co-operates. This year the superintendents have an added conundrum with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving them with the burning question, “Will they be open?”
Golf courses are unique in the current situation, as each golfer has a personal set of equipment and clubs and that it would be possible to limit two players to a group and one man to a cart, which could keep the very popular game playable within the pandemic guidelines.
Preparations, like having no ball washers, putting a stop in the cups, so the ball can be retrieved without having to handle the flag, would assist to make physical distancing possible.
Based on the directive from the Saskatchewan Health Authority all courses will be remaining closed at this time.
Director of Golf Saskatchewan, Brian Lee, said, “Golf courses can get prepared but cannot open, based on Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Provincial Government press release in March 2020, the physical course can be maintained, the grass cut, etc.”
Kelvin Van Winkoop, who is the superintendant at Golf Kenosee, was optimistic that at some time there would be a golf season, stating his plan to “maintain the course with a bare minimum of workers and keep the grass cut to be ready to open when given the okay”.
Greenskeeper at the Moose Creek Golf Course, Larry Schick, basically had the same view, saying, “The tentative plan is to open, we just don’t know when.”
Steve Polsom of the Carlyle Golf Course was very busy the day I was able to visit the Carlyle course, checking the greens that were still tarped. The situation was the same at the Carlyle course. Removing the protective green covers would need the workers to adhere to the physical distancing, as it is a necessity that they would need to be removed at the proper time. He was carefully planning the removal, “I think we can do it safely in small groups” and also was wary that it would be “up to the government” as to a timeline for opening, the ground crew “would take every precaution possible” when and if allowed to open, making mention, “the course looks really good”.
White Bear Golf Course was also in unison with the other courses, whether the courses would be open to golf was definitely a concern. Course superintendent Larry Palmer and course maintenance staff were also busy, making preparations to have the course ready for the upcoming season.
Palmer is very optimistic about the coming season and the excellent shape of the course at White Bear Resort, adding, “We’re going to prepare like we are going to open and wait and see for the government directions”.