The Oaks of St. George is prepared for an onslaught of business this long weekend. The course is now allowed to open for the first time this year. However, golfers returning after the extra long off-season will notice some significant changes.
“The first round of 2020 is going to feel a lot different than the last round of 2019, that’s for sure.”Doug Breen, Regional Vice President, Golf North Properties
Ontario Premier, Doug Ford announced some good news for outdoor enthusiasts just ahead of the province’s official start of phase one in their re-opening plan on Tuesday, May 19th. This Saturday, private parks and campgrounds, marinas and boat clubs, golf courses and businesses boarding animals will be allowed to open.
“This is the best day in a very very long time”, says Doug Breen with Golf North Properties (owners of the Oaks of St. George). “We’ve anticipated this day would eventually come and we’ve certainly done a lot of work behind the scenes to get ready and we’ve done a lot of lobbying, quite frankly, to make sure the government knew we were ready to go.”
Breen explains, their company had the advantage of examining plans and procedures being implemented at golf courses already open in other provinces, as well as around the world. Golf North Properties then created a strategy of best practices for the re-opening of their 31 courses throughout Ontario.
“Basically the regulations (from the province) that were sent back were very close to what we said we would do to make it safe,” Breen says. “That’s the most important thing. If we do this and it isn’t safe, no one is going to want to come and it won’t be successful. We want our customers to feel safe. We want our staff to feel safe. We’re pretty comfortable with the regulations we have set out.”
Among the changes aimed at maintaining social distancing and reducing contact, the Oaks of St. George is encourage players to book and pay in advance through the Golf North website.
Although foursomes will be allowed, there is a policy of one person to each golf cart and only one person in the washroom at a time.
“One thing we are asking people is to book in advance. There’s always been a community of golfers who just sorta show up and look for a game. This year, you’re probably not getting on a golf course unless you have a tee time in advance.”Doug Breen, Regional Vice President, Golf North Properties
Breen explains, tee times are spread out so there’s no congestion among people coming in to pay and heading out.
Tee times for this long weekend are quickly filling up. “”In anticipation of the announcement, we opened our online portal for web booking Wednesday at midnight,” Breen says. “Almost every one of our courses in Ontario is now full for this Saturday already.”
Despite the many new rules, there is one option players may find comfort in knowing hasn’t changed. Golfers will still be able to get a cooler bag in the pro shop and enjoy a cold beer along on the course.