(File photo)

(File photo)

Restrictions a mixed bag for local Ponoka golf courses

Golf courses in COVID-19 hot spots across the province have felt the pinch over the past week due to the tighter restrictions that came into effect May 10.

Enhanced restrictions are currently in place in regions where there are 50 cases per 100,000 people, and at least 30 active cases.

With 73 active cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of May 17, Ponoka has been under the enhanced restrictions, and it’s impact has been felt at the area’s local golf courses.

Tee times are limited to members of the same household or, if they live alone, two close contacts. The restrictions were to last at least three weeks.

Business is down about 50 per cent at Wolf Creek Golf Resort, according to owner Ryan Vold.

The resort is booking mostly twosomes, as most other clubs are, which means there’s about a 50 per cent drop in play.

Vold says as a group, golf courses leave it to the National Allied Golf Associations to negotiate the best deal with the government on their behalf.

Golf was originally on the list of closures, but that decision was changed.

He added that golf courses are lucky to be open at all.

Wolf Creek Golf Resort is partially in Lacombe County and partially in Ponoka County, but both are considered hot spots right now and are under the more restrictive health measures.

‘We just have to wait it out, that’s all you can do,” said Vold.

The resort had a great start to their season, says Vold, opening early on March 27, possibly the first in the province to open.

“That’s almost unheard of in Alberta,” he said.

The early start certainly helped, and the resort had one of their best April’s ever, says Vold, adding people were eager to get out in the fresh air and hit the green and rounds were way up.

Vold says the current restrictions aren’t designed for golf, which make them hard to manage and explain to customers, which has led to some friction.

“Everyone is going to take it differently,” he said.

Having to watch during the day to make sure people are following the rules also means more staff need to be out on the course throughout the day.

“It just causes a lot of little issues we have to deal with during the day,” said Vold.

“Hopefully we’re at the end of this and we can get on with our lives.”

To book a tee time at Wolf Creek Golf Resort, visit their website, wolfcreekgolf.com or call 403-783-6050.

“We are tired of continually having to completely recreate the way that we operate our business and we know that you are also tired of the changing regulations and protocols,” states the website.

“But unfortunately this is the situation that exists at this time, so let’s do our best to politely work together during this difficult time so that we can all continue to play the game we love.”

Although the current restrictions have been somewhat frustrating, it hasn’t slowed business down at all, says Ponoka Golf Club head golf professional Ryan Moore.

Since the restrictions came into effect, the golf club reduced the intervals between tee times from 10 minutes to five minutes, which has allowed them to keep the same amount of people on the course per day.

“Golf is basically the safest sport out there,” said Moore.

“Even when you have four people on the course, you hardly see anyone.”

The club opened on April 9 and was quite busy for the first few weeks.

“People were excited to be back,” said Moore.

“We’re juggling all the restrictions and we’re just waiting for it to be over, and everyone is doing their part.”

Online booking is currently only open for members. Guests can call the pro shop at 403-783-4626 to book their tee time.

Golf