Kelowna and Kamloops golf courses open with pandemic precautions in place - InfoNews

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Kelowna and Kamloops golf courses open with pandemic precautions in place

Harvest Golf Course
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April 14, 2020 - 7:30 AM

At least four Okanagan golf courses are opening this week with more coming in the near future, all with strict COVID-19 restrictions.

The Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna plans to open Friday to members only. It originally decided to stay closed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just felt it was our community duty to remain closed during these sensitive times,” General Manager Gilles Dufort told today, April 13. “We just felt now, as the weather is improving and the directives of the government still allow us to open, we just think it’s an appropriate time for us to open the golf course for our members only.”

He has consulted extensively with health experts and other golf courses and associations to put protocols in place that best fit that site. He’s going so far as to hold a practice night on Wednesday with invited members, including retired doctors and nurses, to make sure the protocols work.

“We are taking every precautionary measure in accordance with the government and health authorities,” Dufort said. “We’re instituting and implementing all sorts of guidelines.”

That includes things like one person to a golf cart with nothing else on it – not even scorecards or pencils – except the driver and his or her bag.

The Kamloops Golf and Country Club originally opened March 22, closed four days later to re-evaluate the situation before opening again on April 8, general manager Alec Hubert said.

Why re-open?

“A big part of it is, we were one of the only ones closed in Kamloops,” he said.

Ian Robertson, from Kelowna Springs golf course, said many courses in the Okanagan opened earlier this season then closed while most Kamloops courses stayed open. Okanagan operators learned a lot about how best to run during COVID-19 from the Kamloops courses, along with some in Vancouver that stayed open. He's heard that more Okanagan courses will be opening in the days to come.

Kelowna Springs is part of a group called Play Golf Kelowna that announced today they, along with Shadow Ridge and Shannon Lake will open Wednesday.

Robertson is convinced that golfers will follow safe distancing practices, even on greens that can be 5,000 square feet, lots of room for four people to safe distance.

“Of all the pursuits to do outside, golfing seems more logical than biking in Knox Mountain Park, etc.," Roberson said. "When I’ve been, there's much more congestion than you’d experience on a golf course. Walking the waterfront downtown, it’s beautiful but it’s reasonably congested.”

Some of the Play Golf Kelowna restrictions include a reduced number of tee times, closing practice facilities like putting greens, no one is able to arrive more than 20 minutes before their tee-off time, no bunker rakes and inserts will be placed in cups to prevent the ball dropping to the bottom.

Tobiano, just west of Kamloops, is listed on its website as closed, as is Kelowna and Penticton golf and country clubs while Predator Ridge, between Vernon and Kelowna is aiming, for a May 1 opening.

That could change any day.

Most or all restaurants at the roughly two dozen full-length golf courses in the region will not be operating.

Meanwhile, Peachland's ZipZone is also planning on opening this weekend Owner Kevin Bennett said in a release they have taken proper precautions to maintain social distancing. 

“We know that opening our park may be controversial to some but getting out into the sunshine is the most healthful thing that people can do right now, and we’re here to help,” he said. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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