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Golf courses in Quebec prepare to reopen with new safety measures

Last Updated May 17, 2020 at 6:57 pm EDT

Gary Lagden, general manager of Le Blainvillier golf course in Blainville, Que., attempts to sink a putt on Sunday, May 17, 2020. Golf courses in Quebec are reopening Wednesday. (CITYNEWS/Melina Giubilaro)

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – Golf courses in Quebec are getting ready to reopen on Wednesday, but golfers should expect some changes to the game this season.

The main rule going forward: respect social distancing measures.

“We are going to limit the amount of people allowed on the putting green,” said Gary Lagden, general manager of Le Blainvillier golf course in Blainville, Que.

“It’s a whole new world. It’s something we had never seen before, something we never had to deal with. It’s a little hectic, but it’s about security keeping everybody healthy, protecting our employees and protecting our members.”

Golf courses are reopening in Quebec after the government announced some recreational sports can be practised freely outdoors. The activities can be done solo or in pairs, without having to share equipment. Individuals also need to maintain a two-metre distance.

At Le Blainvillier, Lagden has adapted his 36-hole golf course by painting arrows on the floor to guide golfers. He also installed a sink for them to wash their hands.

“One of the things we had to come up with is a device to put in our cups to make sure that the ball doesn’t go at the bottom,” he said. “So we’re able to recuperate the ball without affecting anybody.”

The private club that usually welcomes 700 members each year won’t be accepting guests for the first two weeks. The goal is to make sure the sport can be played while respecting the social distancing guidelines.

But while many golfers return to the course, all golf tournaments remain cancelled. Tournaments make up a large portion of revenue for Le Blainvillier – roughly $300,000 a season.

Lagden is also losing revenue because the club’s restaurant is closed. Meanwhile weddings and receptions are cancelled or rescheduled until next year.

“We try to push some to September, but as you can understand, September isn’t any longer than any other month,” said Lagden. “We’ve actually put a lot of things off until 2021.”