Grab your clubs – golf courses are open again

St. Stephen

As certain restrictions regarding COVID-19 are being lifted and people can start to adjust to the “new normal”, more and more public areas are opening up. This is great news for golfers, because now they can back out on the links and enjoy their game. Of course, there are still rules that golfers must follow in order to adhere to the restrictions that are in place, but most are happy to do so in order to get out there and start playing again.

Golf NB has been in consultation with the Province of New Brunswick, as well as member clubs and partner associations to make sure that the top priority is the health and safety of all players and staff members. The following statement can be found on the Golf NB website:

“We continue to urge golfers to follow the guidelines from health and governmental officials to keep you and those around you safe, and to minimize any possible exposure to coronavirus. This is especially true on a golf course, where golfers, workers and operators should heighten their level of awareness on exposure to surfaces like flagsticks, golf balls, bunker rakes, tees, carts and scorecards. We all need to do our part to respect expert advice and make the right decisions to protect each other.”

Andrew George, Manager of the St. Stephen and St. George Golf Clubs, said they have received a list from the government with the policies that must be enforced at this time.

“Obviously we’re enforcing those, like one person per power cart unless you’re married or living together. We took things off the golf courses that people commonly touch,” said George.

George said the clubhouse at each course is closed at the moment, but he hopes that as more restrictions are lifted that they can open them back up. As for being able to enforce the restrictions outside on the courses themselves, George said there’s “not a heck of a lot you can do outside the building”. People are allowed to golf in groups of four, but they are encouraged to keep that six foot distancing while they are on the courses.

“We enforce the power cart rules,” said George. “You can’t touch the flags. There’s stuff in the holes to keep the balls out. The grounds crew is keeping an eye on people to make sure they’re behaving.”

The biggest problem for George is wondering what rules are currently in place, and what all of the restrictions are. He said it is difficult to get any answers from the government at this time, and they are unable to get much clarification on anything.

“The NBPGA is giving us guidelines they say are mandated by the government, but I haven’t seen a government document to say these certain things are mandated,” said George.

George said people seem to be following all of the guidelines, and there haven’t been any issues in the first week of the courses being open. The biggest problem has been with tee times, which are mandatory. There were a couple of instances where groups of three people would invite a friend to golf with them, but did not add their friends to the tee time. Unfortunately, because of this, the spots had already been filled. The clubs are also asking to see identification when they do not know the people who are playing and who are using the power carts. This is to ensure that they are married or living together, and not from separate households.