Golf stays on course

Published 5:36 pm Friday, September 11, 2020

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Businesses across Charlotte County have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Briery Country Club (BCC) has been no different. It has been open for play without interruption this spring and summer, but it has faced significant challenges along the way.

“We did not shut down, but the pool opened late,” BCC Board of Directors President Christin Jackson said. “We haven’t had golf tournaments. We’re getting ready to have our first golf tournament, actually, this weekend, and we normally have them as soon as the summer breaks.”

She said BCC usually has a few golf tournaments a month to raise money and help support the club.

The pool opened around the middle of June, Jackson estimated, which represents a few weeks’ delay from the norm.

“We usually do it the last day of school for Charlotte County kids,” she said. “We usually make sure it’s open that last day of school, which is the week before Memorial (Day) weekend. So it’s about three weeks late, probably, getting the pool started, so that hurt as far as clubhouse and bringing in money.”

BCC had a very difficult time adding lifeguards to its staff earlier this year.

“Some of the people that we had signed up that we were hoping were all going to be lifeguards never got to get their certification, so we really only had two lifeguards,” Jackson said.

They were not able to get their certifications because they did not receive the prerequisite training from the area YMCA, which was closed for a significant amount of time during the pandemic.

Jackson did count a major blessing BCC is grateful for, though.

“The one good thing — people did continue to play golf, because that’s something you could pretty much social distance with and the governor had said that was kind of OK,” she said. “By the first of June, people were ready to get out and do something, and they could go out and either walk and play or get carts separately. Our play has been pretty good out there.”

Briery Country Club instituted several measures to help facilitate golfing amid the pandemic.

“We cleaned the carts between each (use),” Jackson said. “We were scrubbing down bathrooms between each person using (them). If they weren’t in the same household, we tried to get (people) to use separate carts if they wanted to. But some people pretty much play together that rode together, and they were like, ‘Well, it’s no big deal.’”

Consideration was taken of items multiple golfers might touch, like the rakes in the sandtraps and pins in the cups. The rakes were removed for a time.

“We put the pins in the cups and actually put foam down in the cups to keep your ball from going very far down in there, so it actually kept people from even touching the pin, so they could just lift their ball straight out,” Jackson said.

For a while, no golfers were allowed in the pro shop.

“They couldn’t come in,” she said. “We’ve got a little window, and now we’ve got it to where they can have up to five people in the pro shop at one time. But at first, we didn’t have anybody. Everybody had to go to the window, and we had the six-foot marks on the cement to keep people in line outside, for the pool traffic and the golf traffic.”

With restrictions loosening somewhat, statewide, as Virginia reopens, BCC has taken steps back toward normalcy. The staff recently put the rakes back in the sandtraps.

“We’re seeing how that goes, but we’re not mandating that people use them, so we were just kind of seeing what people thought, and some people are raking them, and most people are not, and that’s fine,” Jackson said. “We rake them every night too.”

She said the club also leaves it up to the individual if they want their own cart.

“If they want an extra cart, we’ve got carts out there, and we’ve got plenty of carts available for people,” she said.

The biggest blow BCC has sustained business-wise has been the lack of tournaments held thus far.

“That’s hurt us the most, because besides memberships, that’s the only way we make money is to have tournaments and benefits and stuff out there,” Jackson said. “And we just haven’t been able to do that because we don’t want to have big crowds of people at one time.”

But she said Briery Country Club is going to try this weekend.

“We’ve kind of got a game plan on how this is going to work, and we’ve got extra carts that members are donating to play so people can still social distance,” she said. “The dinner that we usually have will be outside around the pool, so we won’t be close, that sort of thing. It’s just a whole different world trying to think through how to do everything and keep everybody safe.”