The Weyburn Golf Club has had some major challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but president Marshall Bakken feels the club is “moving in the right direction” now, members heard at the annual meeting held on Thursday evening, particularly with a new club manager and a new greens superintendent on staff.
People are able to golf, but the golf course is limited to enforcing a 12-minute delay between tee times, and so far the government is not allowing for shotgun starts for any competitions on the course.
In spite of that, the Weyburn Golf Club will be able to hold their first competition of the year, the Crocus Open, on the weekend of July 11-12.
“It just won’t be the same as before,” said the club’s new golf pro, Dru Bolen, who noted they have the restaurant open but no buffet is allowed as yet.
“It’ll be the first Award of Merit event this year,” he pointed out.
The event had originally been set for the Father’s Day weekend, but it was bumped back due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
In regard to the desire to reinstitute shotgun starts, he noted the golf bodies in Canada are working together to lobby the government to make this happen, or else to allow shorter tee times.
Bakken said there are some positive signs, such as the golf course being “slammed” in the past week, and they are starting to see improvements on the course.
“Since starting with us, Dru has posed a lot of great ideas, such as ways to save money,” said Bakken, noting that Bolen has a background in finance. One change recently was to buy a new washer and dryer, a move that Bolen said will save the golf club about $3,000 a year from Canadian Linen.
“Hopefully with some tournaments, like with Crocus and a few others, maybe we can salvage the 2020 COVID year,” he said, adding he is hoping that by September the Weyburn Red Wings might be able to hold their fundraiser Par 3 golf tournament, if shotgun starts might be allowed by then.
Bakken noted two or three tournaments were postponed to September, and one tournament was lost, the fundraiser tourney for the Humane Society, which was to be held on Friday.
Asked if the Golf Club’s finances are looking bleak, Bolen replied, “It doesn’t feel dire in my opinion,” noting the course was able to get the interest-free small business loan from the federal government, which helped out with some cash flow. The loan will have to be repaid, but it’s interest-free until 2022.
In his first report since starting in March, he noted he was here for two months before the golf course was able to open, and the kitchen just opened on June 8 with a limited menu.
“Essentially you’re working with three different guidelines, and we’ve done the best with what we have,” said Bolen.
In regard to the golf club’s tax bill, a letter was filed with the RM of Weyburn two weeks ago asking for a tax abatement. Bolen added he’s had conversations also with the City of Weyburn, with city manager Mathew Warren, about the property.
In terms of memberships, the Weyburn club is close to 210 memberships so far this year, with 174 paid members, and around 70 have paid for cart rentals.
“On paper, we’re busy but with 12-minute tee times it’s hard,” he said.
Asked what rationale the government has had for not allowing shotgun starts, Bolen said as they did the math on what a tournament would bring in, a shotgun start would have many of the golfers in the clubhouse at the same, which is something they are trying to avoid to help prevent infections of COVID-19.
The report on the ladies club was given by Andrea Corrigan, who noted that the ladies are golfing every Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the ladies have not had their annual meeting yet, but she noted a meeting will be set now that ladies have resumed coming out to golf.