Mount Brenton Golf Course has become one of the Island’s golfing hot spots this summer and a very busy place since reopening from a COVID-19 shutdown.
The course has literally been booked from dawn to dusk each day, with groups spaced out for longer periods for physical distancing. Board president Art Kendall cites cost and course conditions as primary factors for the regular presence of members and the influx of visiting green fee players.
“I think we’re the most economical price point in golf,” he said. “We’re $2 to $10 a round cheaper.
“We were sure worried in the month we were closed. It was such a revenue loss with no reduction in expenses.”
Superintendent Ernie Whitelaw and the grounds crew kept the course in tip-top shape during the shutdown and since reopening and that paid off. Numerous comments have been made since by golfers enjoying ideal course conditions.
A recent Golf BC Bantam and Novice tournament went ahead, but not without some controversy.
Kendall noted the commitment was made with Golf BC to host the event a year ago. In addition to the safety protocols put in place by the association, there was some miscommunication about local COVID requirements and relaying those messages to the kids.
“There’s always certain things that go off the rails,” conceded Kendall. “Kids were not told they can’t show up till 10 minutes before tee time.”
Groups were also 10 minutes apart going out onto the course.
Some of the participants in the tournament were showing up 30 minutes in advance of tee times to use the practice greens. But the situation got cleared up during the practice round before the actual tournament play took place for the ensuing two days.
“I was told everything ran very smoothly on the Tuesday-Wednesday after they got past that one hurdle of the 10-minute intervals,” added Kendall.
“These kids are the up-and-coming professionals. Every golf course in the world has a mandate to encourage junior golf. We were pretty proud to do that. Of course, when we did that, we didn’t know COVID was coming.”
There’s also been some incidents of members arriving too soon and other issues with COVID regulations that have resulted in warnings or discipline.
“We’ve been really on top of it,” said Kendall.
All other major tournaments and club championships have been cancelled this year. Sept. 12-13 would have been the Mount Brenton Amateur for men’s players, one of the biggest events of the year at the club.
The other major news within the club is the Municipality of North Cowichan’s commitment to install a signalized crosswalk at the club within six months for players to cross Henry Road.
Kendall credited Chris Fritsch, a new addition to the board in the last couple of years, for his hard work in seeing that issue to fruition.
“Never had anybody hurt or injured there,” said Kendall. “I can’t believe there’s never been an accident and I think this is going to be good to keep that safety trend in place.”
It will require some adjustments for drivers with another crosswalk in the vicinity by the Henry Road roundabout and the Trans Canada Trail.