Due to Ontario government mandated closures for non-essential businesses
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Golf and Country Club planned to open its 18-hole course to members and the public on Tuesday of this week for walking. However, due to a government mandated closure of non-essential businesses, they will have to remain closed for at least the next 14 days.
The G&CC golf team was excited to open the course in March for the first time in a number of years. The management team is considering opening the restaurant for take-out, but is awaiting more information from authorities on what constitutes a non-essential business.
“We actually made the decision to close the clubhouse more than 48 hours before the Ontario government advised us to do so,” General Manager and Director of Golf Matt Staffen told the Independent this past weekend. “We were doing our best to be proactive and leaders in the community.”
Could the clubhouse continue to be closed indefinitely, Staffen was asked. “We’re waiting for the decision from the Ontario government for the next steps on that,” he replied. “The next rounds of decision-making are supposed to happen prior to April 7.”
Although they planned to allow golfers to walk the course, the club was not planning to allow golfers to use power carts either way. “We wanted to maintain ‘social distancing’ and prevent the possible spread of the infection from getting on the carts,” Staffen said. “Some golf courses in Southwestern Ontario were allowing carts for all players, however, our team did not feel that was the moral thing to do at this stage.”
Innovative ideas on the course
Staffen explained a “safety precaution” Head Superintendent Sandy Fifield was introducing. “It’s a neat one; she cut a pool noodle into sections and they were being placed into the cups. The pool noodle stops the ball from going to the bottom of the cup. When the ball falls into the cup, golfers wouldn’t have needed to lift the flag, but instead just bend over and pick up by hand.”
He said a couple of other health tips were also being stressed, including social distancing with playing partners, refraining from shaking hands, removing rakes from the course, and discouraging carpooling to the course with other players in the group.
Staffen added, “The good news is that it’s still March and a typical golf season begins late April or early May. We still anticipate a solid golf season ahead, once we have more clarity on the situation.”
The General Manager says all weddings and other special events during the month of April have been postponed.
–A project currently being finished at the course involves the steel green overhead bridge on the par 5, No. 3 hole. “We restored the bridge in the off-season,” Staffen said. The bridge has been painted black and they are just waiting for the boards to be installed. “That was a big project we took on over the winter, which will restore the bridge to its original look and feel,” he added.
–Last season, Staffen said the G&CC spent $40,000 on such things as drainage, improving sand traps on various holes, and purchasing several new golf carts.