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Golf stays on course

Businesses across Lunenburg have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the county’s two active golf courses are no different. However, though Lunenburg Country Club and Victoria Golf Club have had to make coronavirus-related adaptations, they have been open for play without interruption this spring and summer.

Lunenburg Country Club (LCC), located at 1008 E. 5th Ave. in Kenbridge, has had to scale back some of its offerings while still making golf available to those in the community.

“We altered and still have altered a lot of our normal operations, particularly as it relates to any type of golf tournaments, social activities,” LCC Treasurer Randy Lail said. “We actually postponed or canceled several golf tournaments early in the season. We have started those back now on a little different basis, not nearly as much social function along with the golf tournament.”

Lail noted the loss of those tournaments earlier in the year has affected the club’s revenue stream.

“If a member wanted to go out and play golf during the day, that was fine, but as far as any type of social function, be it a dinner or a cocktail hour or an organized golf tournament of any kind, we stopped those completely from about mid-March until well into July,” he said.

Early on in the pandemic, members who wanted to play had to abide by some new rules.

They were asked to not share a cart with anyone, as each person needed their own cart. Rakes were removed from sandtraps and cups were turned over so the ball did not go down in the hole. These precautions were taken to avoid multiple people touching the same objects and potentially transmitting the novel coronavirus.

“We limited the number of people in the pro shop, those kinds of things,” Lail said.

He noted that as the summer progressed and LCC staff learned more, some of these restrictions have been phased out.

“And as the general economy began to reopen, I guess you could say we kind of reopened a little bit as well,” he said, referring to the July timeframe. “We’re clearly not back to where we were in past years, but from just a golf standpoint, probably closer to business as usual now. Still, we did not reschedule the golf tournaments and those kinds of things that we canceled earlier in the year.”

In terms of business, LCC has had less expense in terms of providing food for events.

“We also took some measures to reduce some of the club expenses just in general,” Lail said. “I think most clubs in Southside have to be pretty careful about how they spend their money anyway, and this was just another item that would cause you to be careful about how you spend the member dollars that you had.”

The club has not had to spend much money on cleaning supplies because it simply has not used the clubhouse.

Victoria Golf Club (VGC), located at 4086 Poorhouse Road in Victoria, has employed some of the same restrictions put in place at LCC.

“We haven’t had to shut down, but we’ve had to change how we operate,” VGC board of directors member Mike Walker said.

The key changes have included restricting the number of people allowed at one time in the pro shop, where people come to pay their green fees and get their golf carts. VGC rents one cart to a person, unless it is a family playing together. The club has removed rakes from sandtraps and asked players to leave pins in the cups.

“We haven’t lifted any of those restrictions, but I will tell you that people are creatures of habit,” Walker said, noting observance of guidelines was better earlier in the pandemic.

VGC has also not been able to serve any hot food in the pro shop, and it has canceled some events.

“We canceled them in the spring and now we’re trying to reschedule them in the fall, the tournaments that we normally have for our members,” Walker said.

He said the goal is to have some tourneys in October.

There has been a significant positive that has come out of the pandemic for VGC, though, Walker pointed out. People have had more time on their hands and playing golf is an outdoor sport, so the club has seen an increase in play and membership.

“The number of rounds being played has increased,” he said.