Okanagan, Kamloops golf courses saw tee-riffic year amid pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan, Kamloops golf courses saw tee-riffic year amid pandemic

Kelowna Springs Golf Course.
Image Credit: Lucide Visual
November 01, 2020 - 8:29 AM

While many hobbies, businesses and trips were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some golf courses in Kamloops and the Okanagan say they were busier than ever.

Golf was the pandemic pastime of choice for several reasons, according to golf experts.

"It was one sport that was safe, they could be outside, they could social distance," Kathy Gook with Big Horn Golf said. 

Typically, their members travel in the summer, playing courses in the United States. However, this year everyone stayed close to home.

Golf also takes up about four hours per game, and that can be a deterrent for those with a busy schedule. During the pandemic though, vacations, events and in some cases work were off the calendar, so people had nothing but time to spare.

"Our age demographic is a more mature one, and for that particular demographic there was not that much to do," Gilles Dufort with The Harvest golf course said. "They were not necessarily at ease to go into an indoor setting, so consequently they were looking at golf as a perfect social opportunity."

He said the Harvest experienced more member play than ever before, in excess of 30 per cent. 

"Anything that was outdoors, people wanted to embrace," he said. "As long as you can walk and move your arms, you can play golf."

When it comes to safe activities, he said, golf checks all the boxes and more.

Golf courses took precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, some suspending cart use, telling members to leave the flag in the hole, limiting party numbers and making hand sanitizer widely accessible.

READ MORE: Some Kamloops, Okanagan golf courses open and taking precautions against COVID-19

Avid golfers weren't the only ones hitting the greens. 

"There was a lot of new people that visited our site," Dufort said. Big Horn reported the same.

"It was a sport everybody could get back into," Gook said. "I had a lot of conversations with people saying 'I haven’t played for years, but decided to get back out.'"

Some people who were brand new to golf decided to take the opportunity to pick up a club.

"You’ve got all these active people that aren’t taking part in their normal activities," Danny Latin of Mount Paul Golf said. "They’re not all of a sudden going to pick up the Xbox. If they’re normally active, they want to be active."

He said it was consistently busy at the course all season.

It seems the pandemic business boost wasn't unique to local golf courses.

"We got very busy, and it’s not just us, I believe it’s all golf courses," Gook said.

Big Horn closed for a month in March, but they made up for their losses the rest of the summer.

"This is not just an Okanagan phenomenon," Dufort added. "This was a North American, possibly beyond, phenomenon."

While not all industries came out of the tourist season on top, those in the golfing business can be thankful for a stellar year.

READ MORE: Canadian companies that have filed for creditor protection since COVID-19 pandemic

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 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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