The St. Marys Golf & Country Club will open on Saturday, May 16th under government recommended protocol. Please review the following before arriving at the golf course for your tee-time:
Good morning Golf Friends,
Since the Ontario government advised golf courses to prepare for the golf season, we have been anticipating a confirmed opening date for some time now. Unfortunately, again over the weekend, golf courses were not added to the list of businesses to reopen this week. While hardware stores and conservation areas were permitted to reopen, golf courses remain on the 'back-burner' as it pertains to allowed businesses.
First, I understand how this can be frustrating for many of you, as it has been for us. I once again sent a letter of endorsement, on Friday, to our MPP, Randy Pettapiece, pleading for golf courses be opened for the Victoria long weekend. Today, Golf Ontario and We Are Golf sent a letter directly to the Chief Medical Officer, asking for immediate consideration. Some members have reached out asking how they can help. If you would like to consider sending a letter to Mr. Pettapiece as well, endorsing the benefits of opening golf courses, you can contact him at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second, there has been an unfounded rumour circulating that golf courses will be opened following the long weekend and while we hope this to be true, we also would like to hold on to the hope that golfers will be playing over the long weekend. What a better way to celebrate the Queen of queens than with a round of golf!
Next, as of this past Thursday, Eric Dunn is no longer with the business. I would like to thank Eric for his four years of service and for helping to contribute to the success of SMGCC. Any projects that Eric was involved with will now be handled myself and our golf colleagues. If Eric was assisting you with anything at this time, please reach out to me by phone or email.
Finally, please note that the following golf events have been postponed:
In closing, the course is ready for the golf season. Once we get the green light, we will be ready to go.
General Manager & Director of Golf
Dear Members (Friends),
The Ontario government has advised golf courses to prepare for the golf season. We are therefore anticipating an announcement soon on an opening date. Although we eagerly anticipate starting the golf season, the restrictions that the government puts on the golf industry, in regards to social distancing, will ultimately dictate how this season goes. We Are Golf is currently discussing next steps with the Ontario government.
It feels like it's been a long wait, however with less than a handful of quality golfing days in April, it's still early in the season and starting the golf season in May, which we feel will happen, is a positive step forward for the Club and our golfing community. When we have sunny days like Sunday, it's hard to resist throwing the clubs in your trunk and heading to the golf course. We appreciate the patience that you, our members, have shown during this crisis and for participating in proper self-isolation to help protect our frontline workers.
However it it is time to start the golf season! Golf is the perfect self-isolation activity and it's great to see governments across North America recognizing this and opening up state by state, province by province.
We are working on getting ready for the season. There will be a number of new rules and protocols to follow, once we do open. We will also be postponing a number of Club events to later in the golf season. We will share this information with all of you, once we have received information from the government. Stay tuned golfing friends!
General Manager & Director of Golf
Dear Friends of SMGCC,
For the first time since this pandemic struck St. Marys, I am feeling a sense of optimism as it pertains to getting Ontario golf courses open. The Saskatchewan government announced today a five phase Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan which includes opening golf courses on May 15th, as part of Phase 1. This is a positive sign, as governments across North America recognize that golf is considered a safe outdoor activity, when proper social-distancing is being followed.
The response from the public regarding our message to get Ontario golf courses open, under strict protocol, was very positive, with over 90% of respondents indicating they agree that golf courses should be opened. Saying this, it is a double-edged sword, as we cannot discount the concerns from those working the frontlines and/or those standing up for protecting our elderly and frontline healthcare workers. We too sympathize with this point, and want those with this perspective to know that we support the social-distancing measures put in place and will ensure that no one is compromised, if and when golf courses are opened.
Based on recent responses from Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory, I am optimistic that your next round of golf will be in May. Take that for what it is worth, however I too believe that the Ontario government will include golf in its first phase, similar to Saskatchewan. During these uncertain and difficult times, golf has an advantage over other sports. Unlike sports where people interact physically and crowd in small spaces, golf can be played, in small groups, safely over a large area, like our 160-acre property. Golf provides the opportunity to enjoy outdoor exercise, resulting in considerable mental and physical health benefits during the crisis, which has had a detrimental effect on so many Canadians.
Next, we have already received a response from our Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Randy Pettapiece, pertaining to the letter we sent last week. The letter has been forwarded to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, MPP Vic Fedeli, along with a corresponding letter promoting our request. Furthermore, We Are Golf, a coalition of golf’s leading organizations, including Golf Ontario, the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association, the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada, the Canadian Professional Golfers Association, and the Canadian Society of Club Managers, have submitted a request to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee on behalf of the golf industry, requesting the same. The golf industry is doing its part, to ensure that you will be on the golf course, once measures start to loosen in Ontario.
General Manager & Director of Golf
By Spencer Seymour | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the St. Marys Independent newspaper
“During this time of physical distancing, golf courses are uniquely positioned to provide safe environments that support the safety protocols put in place by the government,” read a letter to MPP Randy Pettapiece, penned by St. Marys Golf & Country Club (“SMGCC”) General Manager Matt Staffen earlier this week.
SMGCC normally employs 70 people at its 160-acre facility, though at present 60 of these employees are currently not working due to the government mandated shutdown of non-essential businesses amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
While to non-golfers, the consideration of golf courses as an ‘essential service’ might seem questionable, Staffen provides the argument in favour of re-opening these facilities across the province. “Golf provides the mental health benefits that all citizens need during these unprecedented times through healthy exercise, mental stimulation, fresh air and safe human interaction,” said Staffen. “Golf in Ontario employs over 53,000 people. At a time where governments are juggling the safety of our citizens, the health of our economy and managing the unemployment rate, golf is perfectly positioned to support our government during these exceptional times. For these reasons, we are requesting that golf be considered as
an essential business and be allowed to open.”
In his letter to the Perth-Wellington MPP, Staffen laid out a number of proposed guidelines for Ontario Golf Courses during self-isolation. These guidelines were developed by the National Golf Course Owners Association (“NGCOA”), a trade association representing golf courses all across Canada and the United States.
Under the proposed guidelines, all walk-up traffic and cash payments would be eliminated. All transactions would be handled through the online (or call ahead) purchase of pre-paid green fees. Upon arrival at the golf course, there would be no use of the driving range or putting green. Instead, golfers would wait in their cars until told that they can tee off. Social distancing would be enforced for all golfers, including bans on hand shaking, touching flagsticks, or touching other players’ equipment. People would be limited to playing with those in their pre-booked tee time; no pairing or joining of other players would be allowed. In addition, tee time intervals would be more spread out than usual to increase the social distancing between players.
The golf itself would be “no frills”, with the elimination of cart rentals, golf club rentals, ball washers, bunker rakes...and even scorecards and pencils. Adjustments would also be made to the holes so that cups are raised 1” above the putting surface. In short, every precaution possible could be made so that, when out on the golf course, people could get out and take in an outdoor activity that they enjoy in a safe and responsible manner.
Staffen noted that many other golf courses across the province, including local operations such as River Valley Golf Club and Mitchell Golf Club, are also writing to their local MPP for golf to be allowed to re-open under these strict guidelines when the next adjustment to the list of essential businesses is determined. He added that British Columbia, for example, is a province where golf courses have continued to successfully operate during the pandemic.
Click here to access the article online and scroll to page 6.
Good evening SMGCC Members & Friends,
I hope that everyone is healthy and doing your best to keep a positive outlook on the days ahead. I am reaching out to see how you are doing and to update you on how our team is busy working on getting ready for the season, while also making alternative plans for a number of golf tournaments, weddings, and special events. For golf members, we are working to keep you informed and to provide interactive content that you can use to get ready for the golf season. Here are a number of things that we are working on:
In March I was nominated to the Board of Directors of Golf Ontario. Over the past week, I have been in conversations with Mike Kelly, Executive Director, of Golf Ontario, and with Shawn Hunter, Regional Director for the NGCOA, to find ways to influence this change in thinking, that golf courses are a safe place during self isolation. It is my belief that golf provides a number of physical and mental health benefits during this pandemic AND we can get golf courses open again for play, with a strict set of rules and procedures that the government mandates for all golf courses in Ontario. However, we have to understand that moving golf courses to the 'essential business list' will be a large task, and is not likely to be a top priority over the coming days (or even weeks) for the Health and Sport Ministers. However, we will continue to push our local MPP, as well as the NGCOA and Golf Ontario, to bring this to the forefront, for them to make golf a top priority once lockdown restrictions start to subside.
With a pregnant wife at home and as a father, a golfer, a fisherman (not a good one, haha!), and cyclist, I understand the anxiety and frustration that this situation has provided you all, especially considering that we have had the best spring weather in a number of years. We hope that this content will help keep you active and get you in a good mindset for the days and weeks ahead.
Plus, do not forget that Chef Nathan has been busy in the kitchen preparing take out meals to keep St. Marys fed. Over the weekend, our kitchen was very busy with food orders, so be sure to order from the restaurant in advance!
In closing, my team and I want you to know that when this situation dissipates and the golf season begins, which it will, we will be ready to serve you all, with smiling faces and a full beer cart! Until then, please reach out to me by email: email@example.com or call the Club: 519-284-3704, as I would love to hear from you.
Until then, stay safe and stay home :)
General Manager & Director of Golf
Good morning Everyone,
News has come to our attention this morning regarding last night's announcement from the provincial government that 'All Outdoor Recreational Amenities across Province Now Closed'. From the office of the government:
"In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people home, the Government of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency and associated emergency measures, including the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. In addition, Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately. These actions are based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
This new order would close all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario."
Thereby, it is with deep remorse to announce that we will need to deny access to the property indefinitely, for everyone, moving forward.
For more information, please click here.
We will keep you posted as we learn more.
The St. Marys Golf Team
From our families to yours, we hope that you are staying safe and have been able to self-isolate during these uncertain times. The hardest part for our team has not being able to see our members, golfers or wedding couples, in person. Although I'm sure most of us have discovered Zoom conference calls by now, it's just not the same! We thrive on working alongside you and feed off of human interaction. However for now, we encourage patience. This is a unique opportunity to practice your chipping game in the backyard, read golf lesson manuals, and spend time with family (you live with) at home.
For small local businesses, like ours, it's important that we continue to communicate and connect with our community. First, we are excited to announce that following our Early Bird membership event, our membership family is growing! Next, this coming week, we are opening our restaurant for take-out (only), including food, beer and wine! Executive Chef Nathan has been busy developing a new food menu that will be (partially) released this week for take-out orders starting Friday, April 3rd. And we will offering Family Dinners, releasing a new menu each weekend throughout April. Check back this coming week for more information on ordering instructions - click here.
It has been an another interesting week and like all of you, we are doing our best to manage the cards we have been dealt. We continue to remain closed until further direction from the government and are hopeful that the curve will start to flatten in the coming week, so that we can forecast when we can plan to return to normal operations.
We truly care about you all and consider each of you part of our family, thus why this has not been easy for us. Our entire team has been incredible throughout this entire process and for that, I am grateful. We remain optimistic and continue to promote a nationwide lock down, so that we can get back to 'normal' sooner, rather than later. Internally, we are using self-isolating procedures for our entire operations, including our golf maintenance operations, which are continuing throughout the mandatory closure.
With the National Golf Course Owner's Association's help, we have been approved by the Ontario Ontario government to continue turf maintenance operations at our golf course during the non-essential business closure! Some members of our office team, including General Manager Matt and Corporate Development Associate Mark, and from our Golf Operations Team, Eric and Kellen, and even our Executive Chef, Nathan, have been assisting Sandy, our Head Superintendent, and Arron, in up-keeping the grounds and preparing the golf course for the coming golf season. Furthermore, Sandy's team has put in numerous hours since November, trimming trees throughout the golf course - you will notice a dramatic change in the coming weeks. Please scroll below for photos of our golf course maintenance from the past couple of weeks.
If anything, this experience has reminded me how much I love the game of golf. It may not feel like soon enough, but we will back swinging the sticks soon.
PS > Next week, we will be sending out information on an exclusive online World Handicap Seminar with Golf Ontario - so stay tuned!
Friends of SMGCC,
The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind for all of us and we have been challenged by new information coming forward hourly from government authorities.
As you are aware, the Ontario government has mandated that all non-essential businesses shut down, including golf courses, effective 11:59pm on March 24th. We had planned to open our 18-hole golf course to the public on Tuesday of this week for walking and were already allowing members to play. However based on this latest development, we have been forced to close the golf course to the public and put in further restrictions on member play.
Social distancing and golf means that you are either golfing alone, or with family that you are living with. You are not able to golf together with friends or extended family and still be following the guidelines of social distancing. Thereby, we have put the following strict restrictions in place for members moving forward:
Furthermore, SMGCC-owned pull carts are being removed from play, to eliminate any chance of spreading the infection. Thereby please bring your own pull cart, if desired.
In order to allow members to continue playing golf during this period, these rules need to be followed or we will be forced to ban entry. We will reiterate, our top priority has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our employees and guests and that is why the business is closed. If you are seen playing golf and not following these government mandated rules, you will be asked to leave immediately and not return until the government mandated shutdown has ended.
We all need to work together to get back to normal procedure - please understand that the longer citizens disobey these rules, the longer it will take to return to normal operations, meaning the longer we will be forced to keep the clubhouse closed and golf course unplayable. We understand that most members are already following these guidelines and we appreciate that very much.
What's the the good news in all this? It's still only March! The typical golf season does not start until late April or early May, so at this stage we could still be on pace for another solid season ahead.
Thank you for your understanding during these unprecedented times. We will continue to update everyone as more information becomes available.
The St. Marys Golf Team
Friends of SMGCC,
Here is the latest update for the St. Marys Golf & Country Club, on Monday, March 23rd. As many of you are aware, the Federal and Provincial governments have taken decisive action to slow down the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in our communities. We agree with these firm measures as it is our belief that by taking decisive action now, it will allow businesses, like ours, and all Canadians, for that matter, to get back to normal procedure sooner, rather than later.
From an operating standpoint, we have taken the following actions:
We are still early on in the development of the coronavirus spread in Canada, and thereby, until further confirmations come direct from the government, we cannot be certain of when gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted. Thereby, we are treating each decision on a month-by-month basis, starting with April 2020 special events. We have elected to postpone all April weddings and other special events to later dates in the season. We plan to update May events on March 31st on the status of their wedding or event.
We will continue to update both our golf community and special event clients once additional information becomes available. Until then, please take care and stay safe!
Friends of SMGCC,
At St. Marys Golf & Country Club, our top priority has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our employees and guests.
As an organization, we need to play our part in flattening our communities’ curve of exposure to the virus and put in place new precautionary measures while we make decisions informed by the latest science- and government-based information.
Due to the recent revelation that a local St. Marys native has contracted COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and is reported to be in serious condition, and because we are finding it extremely difficult to control who comes in and out of our building, including those that have travelled out of country, we have made the difficult decision of closing the St. Marys Golf & Country Club facilities effective immediately, up until end of day Monday, March 30th.
SMGCC has an internal team meeting regularly to discuss this evolving situation and to make wise decisions. SMGCC precautionary measures are being implemented as follows:
We understand that this decision will be difficult for some of our clients and customers and will work with each of them, on a case-by-case basis in regard to finding the best possible solution for all parties involved.
From a business standpoint, we understand that this will provide a major challenge to our operations and staff. It is our hope that the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario will step in to support small businesses in St. Marys, and across Canada. A voice of support for local businesses from the community (your voice) will be instrumental in gaining this support.
There are new developments and information coming forward daily, and in some cases hourly. Thereby, we will continue to update our policies and evaluate our operational activities to our valued clients, customers, staff, and friends of the Club as these updates become available.
Thank you for your understanding during this unprecedented time.
Matt Staffen | General Manager
To our valued guests,
As concerns around COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus, continue to grow around the globe, we would like to provide you with an update on our response. At St. Marys Golf & Country Club, our top priority has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our employees and guests. At this point in time we are following the lead of Canadian health authorities to provide a safe and comfortable experience at our establishment. Per the Ontario government, gatherings of less than 1,000 people are not impacted and therefore, our business will continue to operate as usual, with the following notes and procedures.
We have and will continue to instil high expectations of cleanliness in our facilities. On top of our regular cleaning policies and procedures that we commit to every day, we will be implementing enhanced procedures to ensure the safety of all patrons who visit our facilities, as well as the safety of our staff. The additional procedures are as follows:
We will continue to monitor this situation to ensure swift changes are made when required. Please know that we are doing our part to ensure our staff have a stable environment to continue working.
To protect yourself and others, we ask that anyone who may feel ill or is displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus or have traveled out of country in the past two weeks, refrain from visiting us so that we can establish a safe environment for everyone.
Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to welcoming you soon,
Your Friends at SMGCC
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