With summer approaching and golf back on the sports landscape – for some courses, it never really left – at least one South Surrey golf course is aiming to safely host tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially events that benefit charities.
Though large tournaments cannot be held due to the province’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, West Coast Golf Group – which operates South Surrey’s Hazelmere Golf and Tennis Club – has shifted its focus to “what golf tournaments could look like,” West Coast Golf Group general manager Frank Fourchalk said.
They’ll certainly look different than the traditional corporate or charity event, he noted.
For starters, the events will be limited to 50 people or less – including not just golfers, but also event staff and other event tournament personnel – and traditional contests, such as long drives and closest-to-the-pin won’t be offered. As well, Fourchalk said sponsors won’t be out at individual holes, handing out water or prizes, gift bags or anything else that has come to be standard at large-scale golf events.
“Those are all touch points – people pulling out the (longest drive) sheet, writing their name on it, putting it back, so that won’t be allowed,” Fourchalk said.
Hazelmere, Fourchalk added, has started “cautiously re-opening” its food and beverage service, including its restaurant with a limited menu, though such amenities will not be available for tournaments, either.
“We’re also asking golfers to show up as close to their tee time as possible… we don’t want people loitering about,” Fourchalk said.
South Surrey’s Peace Portal Golf Course has a similar policy in place – the course is accepting groups for tournaments, though it’s a golf-only format with no food or beverage service. Essentially, a group of golfers – usually between 20 and 30 – shows up, golfs and leaves.
Even pre-pandemic, the course has not hosted larger, banquet-style tournaments or events.
Other South Surrey and Cloverdale courses, such as Morgan Creek Golf Course and Northview Golf and Country Club, are also popular locations for corporate and charity events in a typical year.
Fourchalk said while the company continues to discuss and fine-tune any protocols for modified tournaments this summer, Hazelmere’s major events have already been cancelled, and re-scheduled for 2021. In a typical year, Fourchalk said between June and the end of the summer, the course would host “one or two” shotgun-start tournaments each week, with 144 golfers “and sometimes more.”
No modified, smaller events have been scheduled yet, he added.
With many courses in Surrey and beyond closed for a number of weeks earlier this spring, during the height of the COVID-19 quarantine period, Hazelmere – along with other WCGG courses, Swan-e-set Bay Resort in Pitt Meadows and Langley’s Belmont Golf Course – has stayed open throughout, with social-distancing and other safety measures in place.
Fourchalk said April – which in the Lower Mainland does not always bless golfers with the best weather – was one of Hazelmere’s biggest months ever.
“It was definitely our biggest April in our history, from what I hear from some of our staff who have been around for (a long time),” he said. “And it probably contends with our biggest months ever, too.”