Running a golf course on a small island as a not-for-profit society isn’t easy in the best of times, and we all know that 2020 hasn’t been the best of times.
But according to general manager and head professional of Quadra Golf Club, Jason Tchir, they’ve managed to come through their strange golf season in relatively good shape.
“It’s been a different one, for sure,” Tchir says, “but for us, at least, it’s actually been pretty good.”
There seems to have been a bit of growth, in fact, in the number of people heading to the course – especially “first-timers,” Tchir says.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of people who have been saying things like, ‘We’ve always wanted to come check it out, but haven’t been able to make it,’” Tchir says. “Especially people from down-Island, like the Duncan and Cowichan area. We’ve seen a lot of brand new people, and I think they were pretty impressed.”
That said, there have certainly been challenges. The team was just making their opening plans for the season when the pandemic hit, and they had to play somewhat of a “wait and see” game while protocols rolled out from the provincial health officer and other agencies.
“It wasn’t until the end of April or so that we even got to open, and at first it was just for members,” Tchir says. “That policy was in place until, I believe, June 13. The way that worked was basically people who had paid their dues or purchased a package of green fees (so only people who had pre-paid for access) were allowed to come out. That way we could eliminate having staff in our kiosk, reducing any possible congestion and minimizing all the touch-points.”
The course did open to the public mid-June, but they still needed to be extra careful and make sure all of the protocols were being followed.
“We’ve had to be extra careful all year in terms of cleaning touch-points and restricting numbers and that kind of thing,” Tchir says. “We have limited space on the driving range to keep people away from each other a little bit, and we didn’t operate our shuttle service this year.”
Most years, one of the most popular features of the course is the pick-up/drop-off service at the ferry terminal so people can save some money on the ferry by walking on with their clubs. But Tchir says everyone seemed to understand that it wasn’t a good idea this year.
“It was out of respect for our volunteers who would have to drive the shuttle, reducing touch points, and it actually didn’t seem to hurt us, which was kind of a surprise,” Tchir says. “We had quite a few phone calls for the service, but people understood 100 per cent when we explained it to them. I don’t think we lost any traffic based on the fact that we weren’t picking people up.”
But he thinks it may have helped other Quadra Island businesses, as well.
“Instead of hopping in the van, golfing, and hopping back into the van and heading back to the ferry, I think it encouraged people to make more of a day of it and see a bit more of the Island,” Tchir says. “We were definitely helping people figure out where to go to have a bite to eat and that kind of thing.”
There was one major concern hovering over the course all year, however.
The society’s major fundraiser each year is the Rod Clark Memorial Tournament. It’s usually a fairly raucous party that fills the course, patio and parking lot with golfers and supporters. This year, that “ususal” wasn’t going to be an option.
Tchir says it was “a bit of a debate about what we should do.”
They could have restricted the attendance for the event to “around 40,” but they would have had much more interest than that and wouldn’t know who they should invite. They could have cancelled it altogether to be safe, but that would have been a huge hit to the society’s finances.
“We also felt like we should at least have something,” Tchir says. “There hasn’t been a year where we didn’t have it for something like 30 years, in one form or another.”
In the end, they decided to just have regular tee-times throughout the day – rather than a shotgun start – and have each participant get a plate-service meal after their round and celebrate the course and the memory of the man the tournament is named after for a while before making room for others to come through.
“We didn’t get to do all the raffles and auctions – we still did a 50-50 draw – but it went really well,” Tchir says.
The event saw 88 players in total come through the course, and on a normal year they’d have about 80 participants, and by eliminating some costs – like having to rent extra carts from other courses so everyone could have one – “we’ll probably be pretty similar to other years in terms of what we’re adding to the club’s financials,” Tchir says.
There are still a few more events to be held at the course over the coming weeks, including the annual Iron Man/Iron Maiden tournament scheduled for Oct. 17, but after that, how long the course will be open will be up to Mother Nature.
“In a perfect world, we’d keep ‘er open until the end of October, but we’ll take it day by day and let the weather dictate how it goes,” Tchir says.
You can contact the course by calling 250-285-2811 to see if there’s any room left in the Iron Man/Iron Maiden Tournament or to book a tee time before they close up for the season when the weather tells them to.