The new manager of operations at Kitchen Creek golf course, Ron MacKinnon, said they are getting the course ready for the post lockdown golf frenzy that is sure to happen.
“We are out here. We’ve got half our grounds crew staff started up and they’re cutting grass and preparing for the season,” MacKinnon said.
MacKinnon said this lockdown has given them a little more time to fix things up around the golf course.
“A little bit of time here to get some much-needed work done, not just cutting grass but fixing cart paths and maintenance,” MacKinnon said. “It’s not a blessing but it’s given us a little bit of time because we know that local golfers want to get out here.”
MacKinnon said he is excited for this season and to take on this new role, adding that he is looking forward to continuing interacting with customers and being outside more.
Kitchen Creek, located west of Fort Frances just off Highway 11 changed ownership last year. Little Otter Economic Development Corporation purchased the course in 2020.
MacKinnon said members will notice the improvements they are currently working on, some of which include improvements to the course itself.
The golf season usually runs until October, which is already too short for some avid golfers and with case numbers fluctuating frequently, it is hard to tell what is in store for the summer. MacKinnon said he is hopeful that the summer will go smoothly.
“I see it as being the same way we opened last year,” MacKinnon said. “We had to spread out tee times and have one person per cart. I see those kinds of safety precautions happening. When we open it’s just limited people in the club house and the restaurant won’t be able to open for sit down.”
It also helps that golf is already a naturally distanced sport, MacKinnon added.
Masks will not have to worn on the golf course but are mandatory in the clubhouse which will also have a very limited capacity.
MacKinnon said excluding staff, around four people would be allowed in the clubhouse at a time. To further minimize contact, tee times would be spread out by an extra five minutes meaning instead of being 10 minutes apart, they would be 15 minutes apart.
Petitions have been circulating calling on Premier Doug Ford to reverse the outdoor activity ban. MacKinnon said he is hoping that Ford changes his mind as more people get vaccinated but for now, they are preparing to open on May 20.
MacKinnon said he can tell people are itching to get back on the course.
“There’s a gate on the highway and if I leave that gate open, people come in and ask if we’re open,” MacKinnon said. “I’ve got to keep the gate closed otherwise I have a steady stream of people coming in.”
Despite the lockdown, MacKinnon said the season opening is weather dependent.
“There’s times where right now there would still be snow on the ground and Rainy Lake would be frozen,” MacKinnon said, adding that it is too early to open up for the season but that he knows most of the seniors are retired golfers that usually go south in the winter and golf and are eager to get going because they were not able to travel.