Phase one of the territory’s re-opening plan has meant relief for just about everyone who’s been stuck inside and waiting for something to do.

Sure, people have been out walking and running and doing other activities to stay in shape but for the sports people among us, the choices have been few and far between.

But it would appear the Yellowknife Golf Club has filled that void nicely if the attendance is anything to go by.

The club has been open since mid-May and has been one of the busiest places in the city ever since things got going with Cole Marshall, the club’s general manager and head pro, saying that preparation was the key.

“We did enough before we opened that we understood what was going to be happening,” he said. “I think we had a good idea that we would be busy based on the fact that there aren’t a lot of options out there right now.”

Cole Marshall, general manager and head pro at the Yellowknife Golf Club, admires a practice shot on the driving range on Sunday. Note the orange pylon to Marshall’s left, indicating that every other tee box on the range is closed off due to distancing procedures instituted at the club this season.
James McCarthy/NNSL photo

Like everything else that was able to open up in phase one, the club has a set of guidelines that everyone who plays the course must abide by and it’s lengthy. To enforce those guidelines, there is a three-strike policy in effect: strike one a written warning, strike two a 14-day suspension of playing privileges and strike three resulting in a season-long suspension.

“We have had to issue some first strikes already,” said Marshall. “It’s not something we want to do but if people don’t want to follow the rules, there will be consequences for that.”

No one from the GNWT has been out to check on things yet, he added, but if officials want to come and do a spot check, they’re more than welcome to do so.

One of the changes this season is 15-minute tee times for every golfer, bumped up from the usual 10 minutes. There’s also the rule that no one is allowed to be at the course until 15 minutes before their scheduled tee time and anyone who plays the course this season must have a tee time – no walk-ups will be allowed to play.

“The sort of mass gatherings that can happen at a golf course have been negated with those protocols that have been put in place,” said Marshall.

The most popular time of day so far has been between noon and 7 p.m. on weekdays, said Marshall, with weekends being up and down.

“Last weekend, you couldn’t get a tee time from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said. “This (past) weekend, it was from around 6:45 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m. It looks busier than it really is because of the 15-minute time slots but we have had to turn people away, unfortunately.”

Phase two could have an impact on what the golf club can do this season and with the possibility of it coming into effect as early as this coming Friday, it could mean a shift back to the 10-minute tee times.

Marshall said that’s because more people can be allowed in the general area.

“There can be more people in and around the golf course,” he said. “It would be possible to have a men’s or ladies league of some kind with tee times, not a shotgun start. You don’t want to have 50 people all congregating in front of the pro shop like they would be.”

The ladies are eager to get going, said Marshall, and he’s had talks with the people involved in running that.

Deanne Whenham is a avid golfer who’s managed to get in some action in between her shifts working at the club.

She said she’s noticed things being busier than normal.

“I went out (Saturday) night to play 18 (holes) and I was held up because there was tons of people,” she said. “We had to turn people down when they called in to try and book a time but it’s good for business.”

The tournaments at the club will begin this coming weekend as the Mediocre Golf Association kicks off its 2020 season with event no. 1 on Sunday.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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