Trail golfers are happy to hear that the Birchbank Golf Course will open on Friday.
And that may be an understatement.
“The phone is going crazy,” said Birchbank’s Director of Golf and Club Pro, Jeff Papilion, who found out Monday night that the course would be open for play. “Our (online booking) portal opened Wednesday at 8 a.m., first time for tee off is 8:30 for now.”
Following the strict protocols set out by the provincial health officer (PHO), the course will be open to Rossland-Trail Country Club members and their guests only to start the season, with stringent restrictions in effect.
Members will also see most of last year’s staff back for another season, and it will be business as usual for these unusual times.
Rossland’s Redstone Golf Resort and Champion Lakes Golf Course in Fruitvale are also opening on Friday. The Castlegar Golf Course opened for members-only last week, Balfour Golf Course tees off Friday, and Nelson’s Granite Point on May 4.
Redstone general manager Jeff Bruce said he’s implemented safety measures, and will also open for members only.
“Once we open, there will be only one entrance as you walk into the shop,” said Bruce. “We also won’t be allowing golf carts on the course to start the season.”
“Players will also notice no-touch flagsticks, no rakes in the bunkers and no benches or garbage cans on the course. We also won’t have any food and beverage services to start.”
Redstone inserted pool noodles in all the holes to prevent a ball from falling into the cup, hence the name no-touch flagstick.
As reported in the Times last Thursday, Champion Lakes is also poised for play.
“It’s exciting,” said Champion Lakes Golf Pro and Manager, Kevin Nesbitt. “But it’s going to be interesting as well. I never in my life expected to run these types of protocols for a golf game, but the times have changed it.”
Champion Lakes is also taking necessary precautions outlined by the PHO, and is giving members first chance to book tee times before noon, after which the public is welcome to book online or by calling the golf course.
Birchbank’s coronavirus precautions include:
No walk-ups or drop-ins allowed, all tee times must be booked online or over the phone.
Members are asked to pay with a credit card when booking a tee time, or debit at pro shop; cash will not be accepted.
Groups teeing off will be separated by 14-minute tee times.
The Clubhouse restaurant will remain closed but some items are available for takeout; golfers must call in order, and pick up from outside deck.
Only two people are allowed in the pro shop at one time. Golfers who have booked and paid do not need to go into the shop but can check in from outside.
There will be no flag sticks, but raised cups on all 18 holes. Golfers will be given a pin-sheet that shows where the hole is placed in one of five areas of the green.
Golfers must respect the six-foot distancing, with no handshaking, high fives etc.
Golf carts are available for rent but to single riders only, unless you share same household.
Golfers are asked to show up no earlier than 20 minutes prior to tee off, and leave the course promptly after round.
The practice putting green will only be open to the group on deck.
Ball washers and rakes have been removed so golfers are asked to bring a damp towel, and foot rake the sand traps when necessary.
The washroom/dressing room doors will be open with touch-points sanitized regularly.
The Birchbank driving range will remain closed for now.
With files from Connor Trembley.