LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- Most professional and recreational sports have been put on ice, as officials work to keep people apart, but staff at some southern Alberta golf courses are looking to be ready for the season whenever it happens.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, preparations are still underway to allow golf courses like the Lethbridge Country Club to open as soon as health officials give them the go-ahead.

Staff was busy Thursday uncovering greens to be ready to open.

The National Allied Golf Association, which represents Alberta Golf and the Alberta PGA, gave courses the green light to move forward after consulting with the province and Alberta Health Services, but that isn’t to say it’ll be tee times as usual.

LCC General Manager Brian Huculak says while they haven’t gotten the main details at this point, he's been told the course has to provide a very strict list of protocols.

"We’ve been working. The City of Lethbridge is involved some, they have jurisdiction over which recreation facilities can be open, and they have also given the green light to golf within Lethbridge," Huculak said.

The protocols include having tee times spaced out, golfers are to show up just before their slot to limit interactions with other golfers, and only single person carts will be allowed unless golfers live in the same house.

"Being that our season delayed compared to jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere that have had golf being played over the last month, there’s been a lot of best practices that have been put into place that we’re going to be following," Huculak stated.

Golf not an essential service

At her most recent COVID-19 briefing in Edmonton, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said no matter what plans have been made, the public is still not allowed onto any courses in the province.

"Golf courses are not accessible to the public at this time because they are a non-essential service," she said.

Hinshaw did say that workers would be allowed on the facilities to take care of the property, but there won't be any tee times until the province says so.

Meanwhile, Huculak says they are doing all they can with protocol for physical distancing between players and how to enforce those rules.

"But everyone is still at risk, our staff especially, so we have to make sure we’re protecting them as best as we can."

Despite the rules, Land O’Lakes golf course in Coaldale has been open since March 27th, with stringent spacing policies in place both for golfers and staff and separating tee times by 20-minute intervals with no walk-ons allowed.

Paradise Canyon, in its most recent correspondence, stated April 18th is the date they’re looking at potentially opening up with similar policies in place.