Kelowna Springs Golf Club opened the new season by taking bookings on Wednesday. -Image: Kelowna Springs Facebook

Kelowna golf courses set to open under strict COVID-19 rules

Three Kelowna golf courses green lighted to tee off on Wednesday after following strict protocol

Three Kelowna-area golf courses teed off on Wednesday after receiving the go-ahead from the provincial health authority.

The operators of Kelowna Springs, Shadow Ridge, and Shannon Lake have modified safety playing rules and taken steps that conform with provincial health guidelines to ensure golfer safety due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“An abundance of preparation, industry discussion, and careful consideration has gone into this decision,” course operators stated in a release.

Golf courses across BC, including Greater Trail’s Birchbank Golf Course, have closed due to a request from BC Golf and Golf Canada to shut down during the coronavirus crisis.

However, BC golf courses can now open as long as they comply with directives on physical distancing and other provincial orders, says Susan Duncan, a spokesperson for Interior Health.

Courses in the Lower Mainland and Kamloops also opened this week.

Guidelines set out by the health officer include:

– reducing the tee time inventory

– not allow golfers onto the course more than 20 minutes before their tee time

– all warm-up areas, including putting greens and hitting nets, will be closed

– reduce “touchpoints” on the course by removing ball washers and bunker rakes

– require golfers to leave the course immediately after they finish play

– install signage around the course reminding players to observe physical distancing regulations

Golf course operators say there’s plenty of room on a typical layout for players to stay well apart from one another.

“With an average property size of 100-plus acres, the ability for physical distancing (minimum of six feet apart) is easily achievable on a golf course,” the release states.

Opening of the courses, the release says, provides for “outdoor recreation and much-needed positive mental health stimulation during this difficult time”.

In the Lower Mainland, Fraser Health officials are visiting the golf courses that are open to ensure physical distancing is being maintained between players, according to the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

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