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Seasonal Venues Open After Government Decision

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Seasonal Venues Open After Government Decision
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TJ Dhir

TJ Dhir is a Journalism student at Sheridan College. He's lived in Oakville for over 10 years, and he loves all sports.

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The Ontario government made the decision to open certain seasonal recreational venues during the Victoria Day long weekend. Since then, golf courses, tennis courts, and marinas resumed operations for the first time since the provincial government declared a state of emergency in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Clubs throughout the province have, no doubt, benefitted from being allowed to re-open. Despite the good news, there are still reminders that the bigger picture is more important. The COVID-19 outbreak has not only delayed the opening of courses across the province, it has also forced extra measures to be undertaken by clubs.

Golfing

“We’re limiting the number of people that can come in the clubhouse at one time,” said Lee Beauchamp, CPGA Professional at Deerfield Golf Club. “Two people allowed in the pro shop, one can be waiting outside, two at the snack bar, and one in each of the men’s and ladies’ bathrooms. We’ve eliminated 25% of our tee off times; we used to do them every eight minutes, we’re now doing them every 12 minutes.”

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is noticeable on the course itself.

“They can’t touch flagsticks; we’ve raised the hole cups so the ball can’t fall in the hole,” said Beauchamp.

When booking tee times, normally, two twosomes would be combined into one foursome. That will no longer be the case in order to continue physical distancing efforts. Golf carts are now assigned per person, unless more than one person in the group is from the same household. Once returned to the clubhouse, they are being sanitized before being assigned to future players.

Golf may have, at least, temporarily, returned to Oakville. For another club, however, a much larger battle continues to brew.

The future of Glen Abbey Golf Club is in limbo due to club owners ClubLink aiming to replace the club with residential units and office space. Having last hosted the Canadian Open in 2018, and with the 2020, 2023, and 2024 Opens having dedicated hosts, the country’s most storied golf course may have hosted its last professional golf tournament. Golf Canada and its partners are in negotiations to use the venue for this year’s Open (St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke) for the 2021 edition.

Tennis

Tennis is also being played in Oakville once again.

Four out of the five clubs aligned with the Oakville Academy of Tennis have also re-opened, but measures are being taken to ensure club members are playing safely.

“For people playing singles, they are encouraged to bring two cans of balls, and mark the cans & balls, so they’re only touching and serving with their own tennis balls,” said Bobby Armitage, instructor at Wallace Park Tennis Club.

tennis players at wallace park tennis club

Two players warming up before their match at Wallace Park Tennis Club. Image courtesy: TJ Dhir

Doubles play is permitted at clubs under the condition that all players are from the same household. Doubles matches only require one can of balls at clubs.

Lessons are also resuming at clubs, meaning that club members can still benefit from instructions by club pros like Armitage.

“For our lessons, we’re only doing private lessons or family group lessons, and they’re not allowed to touch the tennis balls during the lessons,” he said.

Normally, this might slow down a lesson, but the clubs have ball mowers and ball tubes, which allow only the instructors to pick up the balls.

In order to keep members and players safe, all clubhouses are off limits to club members, the sign-up boards at the clubs are only conducted by court attendants that are on duty, and at Bronte Tennis Club, members must wear a mask when walking through the club on the way to the courts.

Not only have private tennis clubs re-opened their doors, public tennis courts overseen by the Town of Oakville have gotten their nets back. Unlike the clubs, however, the public courts do not have staff overseeing the clubs.

heritage glen tennis courts nets

The public courts outside Heritage Glen Public School with nets. Image courtesy: TJ Dhir

Boating

The Bronte Harbour Yacht Club (BHYC) has also re-opened its doors for its members, and the club’s priority was the boats.

“Our first step was to let the members access their boats so they could take the covers off and make sure they survive the winter,” said BHYC Commodore Peter Kirkwood. “We let them access the yard in a socially distant way; we had a limit to the number of people; they had to register in and out so they wouldn’t be working beside on each other on their boats.”

The club will be launching the boats into the water on Saturday, June 6. Usually, that is a great day out for BHYC members, but it won’t be the case this year.

“Normally, that’s an all-hands-on-deck process, but I think we’re going to have to run with a small group of people to operate on the ground,” said Kirkwood. “Normally, every member is there to watch the process and it’s a bit of a celebration to get all the boats in but this year, we’ll have to curtail the numbers for sure.”

The club is unsure if their sailing school will be able to take place this year. While this is not expected to make a big financial impact, lots of parents enroll their kids in the school, and they stick with it until they themselves become instructors in the school. Inter-club racing has also been cancelled until the middle of August, and Kirkwood expects it to be cancelled for the rest of the year. However, he did stress that the club is attempting to come up with a solution for both problems. The BHYC has also created an online self-assessment for members and visitors to the club to complete prior to arriving at the club.

boats at bronte harbour marina

Unwrapped boats at the Bronte Harbour Marina. Image courtesy: TJ Dhir

While the pandemic continues, strides are being made in to return to some sense of normalcy as the weather improves. It may be a slow start, but it’s a start, nonetheless. Hopefully, things continue to get better from here.

 

For more information on golfing at Deerfield Golf Course, Glen Abbey Golf Course, Oakville Executive Golf, or Oakville Golf Club, click on each club’s name for more info. For more info on clubs aligned with the Oakville Academy of Tennis, click here. You can also learn more about the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club.

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