Push carts are recommended and maintaining a six-foot safe distance on the course is part of the new rules at Champion Lakes Golf Course outside of Fruitvale. The nine-hole championship course opens on May. 1. Jim Bailey photo.

Champion Lakes Golf Course announces opening

The Champion Lakes Golf Course is set to tee off on May 1 with strict restrictions in place

Area golfers will breathe a sigh of relief after growing edgy cooped up in their houses the past month.

After weeks of uncertainty, Champion Lakes Golf Course announced Monday that it will open on May 1.

“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.”

Last month, the golf season was put on hold for most courses in Canada, after BC Golf and Golf Canada requested all courses close in respect of the Provinical Health Officer’s (PHO) recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Related read: Kelowna golf courses opening under strict COVID restrictions

However, given the individual nature of the game, courses have been permitted to open if they follow the new rules of operation.

Champion Lakes has taken all precautions indicated by the PHO and implemented strict restrictions for all players and staff, said Nesbitt.

“For me personally, I think everyone has gotten use to the idea, because it’s been going for a month, so a little space is nice. Grocery stores are like six feet, and everyone’s getting used to the idea of personal distancing. Some aren’t, but hopefully the people are aware of it, because you’re going by health guidelines and if people aren’t going to follow it, you have to close the door.”

The spring has been cool so Nesbitt says they didn’t really expect to open any sooner, and with the extra time without traffic can only make for better conditions on the greens and fairways.

Players will have to book tee times over the phone, and give the names all the golfers in the group.

No walk-ons or drop-ins allowed, and Champion Lakes members will get priority to book tee times before noon.

The new rules ask players to show up no earlier than 10 minutes before tee off, leave no later than 10 minutes following the round, and that players respect the six-foot distancing with no mingling or gathering before or after.

The restaurant will be closed, and absolutely no alcoholic beverages are permitted on the course.

As for the course itself, each hole will have a raised cup, and players are asked to leave the flags in. There will be no rakes in the bunkers, no benches, ballwashers, washrooms, or garbage cans.

“It’s basically, you’ll play, get out and get some exercise and be safe,” said Nesbitt. “And that’s the biggest thing, making sure everyone can enjoy something, but most importantly everyone stays safe as well.”

Champion Lakes will also have a course martial, who will monitor golfers and ensure they stick to the new rules and etiquette no matter how difficult it is in the age of the new normal.

“It’s going to be interesting, because golf, playing hockey, anything, you are use to shaking hands, giving high fives, it’s totally going to be different now.”

All players will also be required to sign a form/waiver, in which they agree to follow the PHO protocol and course rules.

“There’s a lot of stuff that golf courses are going to have to control even harder,” added Nesbitt “You have liquor licenses so people can’t be bringing their stuff on the course because you can lose a licence that way. There’s going to be a lot of very strict policy, but if it gets abused, you have one warning and the next is I’m sorry you’ll be leaving.”

The first tee-off time goes at 9 a.m. on May 1. To make a tee time phone 250-367-7001 or go online at golfchampionlakes.com.

Other rules include:

  • One person per cart will be permitted, unless a couple or belong to same household – Proof must be provided. Push carts will be available. Each cart will be sanitized and disinfected before and after each round. Carts must be booked in advance. 2 Carts per group is permitted.
  • Do not share clubs, balls, or any other equipment with other golfers.
  • Pro Shop will allow 2 people in at a time with a sanitizing station setup at entry.
  • Obey all signage regarding social distancing and sanitizing as it pertains to the COVID-19 protocols.
  • The driving range will be open but limited to 5 users at a time. Balls will be sanitized and provided by the Pro Shop. No self serve will be permitted.
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