Local golf courses reflect shifting COVID-19 attitudes

Many people have been wondering why our municipal golf course, Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club, remained closed while, as reported earlier, two of QB’s other golf courses were open in April. On April 5, 2020, Susette Larke of Qualicum Beach wrote to Council asking, “… why our golf course can’t open, as long as we practice safe measures???”

Now, as of May 4, 2020, here is what we know about other courses in the area.

  • QB Memorial Golf Club closed sometime in March, re-opened May 4, but for members only;
  • Eaglecrest Golf Club closed on March 23, re-opened April 19 but, like QB Memorial, for members only;
  • Fairwinds Golf Club closed March 16, and remains closed;
  • Brigadoon Golf Course re-opened April 27, anyone can play;
  • Morningstar Golf Club closed March 23, re-opened April 20, anyone can play.

In all cases, golfers are asked to comply with a set of  COVID-19 protocols.

Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club

Course closures in mid-March generally reflected the uncertainties and attitudes around COVID-19 transmission at the time.

Barrie McWha, General Manager at Morningstar Golf Club told Second Opinion QB, “We closed the golf course March 23 because we felt that it was not an essential service and we should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Our observations at that time were that many people were not taking ‘physical distancing’ seriously.”

McWha’s reasons for re-opening represents a consensus view of many course operators and golfers.  “We decided to re-open April 20th based on encouraging messaging from Public Health and the Allied Golf Associations having developed protocols that made sense and seemed to satisfy both bodies. Our observation after having been closed for a month is that people’s attitudes have changed, and most but not all, recognize that if they wish to play golf, this is the new normal for a while.”

The decisions to re-open don’t exactly reflect a high degree of confidence that golfers, and the people they interact with long after their game, are well-protected.

The owners of Fairwinds Golf Club, in explaining their decision to remain closed, demonstrate the precautionary principle: “The situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving rapidly and our top priority is the safety of our members, guests and staff. We have been fortunate that no members of our community (that we are aware of) have tested positive for the virus, but due to the high risk associated with social contact, we believe this is the best decision at this time.”

Quick Quiz (share with your at-home learners)

You are a golfer standing on the green facing your opponent who is two (2) metres away. There is a light breeze blowing from behind your opponent at 7.2 km per hour. When your opponent exhales, how many seconds will it take for her breath (and any airborne particles within) to reach your nostrils?

Enjoy the sunshine on the links, but play safe.