With summer fast approaching, many Rainy River District residents are anxious to go back to their outdoor activities.
Laurie Pentney, owner and manager of Spruce Creek Golf Course in Morson, said they usually open the first week of May, perhaps earlier this year if the warm weather soldiers through.
“I’ve had anxious people already calling me and wondering when things are going to start, but I don’t have a firm start date at this point in time,” Pentney said.
Although due to COVID-19, most northwestern communities are bound by gathering restrictions set by the Northwestern Health Unit, Pentney said they have seen an increased demand for Spruce Creek last season.
Pentney said Spruce Creek Golf Course does not operate at maximum capacity each year. However, she said they were twice as busy last year than previous years.
“I’m guessing we had maybe 80 per cent more rounds,” Pentney said.
With COVID-19 shutting down many indoor activities, group sports, travel and gyms, they saw an increased demand for golfing given the activity is outdoors with a naturally occurring distance between players, Pentney added.
Even with the increased demand, Pentney said all her staff members were able to follow safety guidelines.
“We have very small clubhouse so we had one person or one customer in the clubhouse at a time,” Pentney said. “We just had to run things a little differently. There was a lot of cleaning. We didn’t have large tournaments that we would serve a meal with afterwards, because we just figured that that would be a difficult situation to do.”
Pentney said Spruce Creek could be ready and open for use in as little as a week after the grass is ready. Although the weather has been warming up, she said they cannot begin working on unthawed ground because they still have snowbanks in sheltered areas.
The maintenance of the nine-hole golf course is administered by the superintendent and her assistant.
“They are busy,” Pentney said. “They do all the mowing and irrigation work. And then there’s myself in the clubhouse and I usually have a full time person and a half time person in the clubhouse. And they would do all the checking people in taking people’s money cleaning the golf carts and cleaning rental clubs.”
Given no employees were laid off last season due to an increased demand in using the golf courses, Pentney said they now have a better handle on how to smoothly navigate different restrictions.
“It was nice to have a safe way of getting out and getting some exercise and actually speaking to another person,” Pentney said. “And people took advantage of that.”