New pandemic liquor law on golf courses not on par, some golfers say

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Winnipeg golfers are flocking back to the green several weeks earlier than usual, but some say a new liquor law isn’t on par.

The City of Winnipeg predicts around 2,000 rounds of golf will happen on its four courses over the long weekend.

"It's been a long winter," said Dr. Pravin Mehta, who was getting his first swings in on Saturday. "We've been looking after a lot of sick people. It's nice to come out and meet my friends here."

While it is nice to be out again, golf courses are facing a new public health restriction.

Unlike last year, golfers will not be able to drink on the course.

Order seven of the Public Health Act states you can't have an alcoholic beverage unless you are seated at a table and also order a meal.

It's a rule which golf courses claim doesn't really match the sport.

"Over the long haul, we would expect the public health order to be revised to be something closer to what we saw last year," said Ben Fey, general manager of golf services for the City of Winnipeg.

Golf courses also worry that it could lead to more "bag beers," alcohol that people sneak into the course.

"It's always an issue," said Pat Burns, head golf pro at Tuxedo Golf Course. "It's something we endeavour to monitor as much as we can. Certainly, if we see it, liquor laws do not allow that."

In an email to CTV News, a provincial spokesperson said, "mitigating risk is considered when public health orders are being developed. Further, we cannot open all services and activities at once, or we will be back in the same situation as we were in the fall."

For players at Tuxedo Golf Course, the rule is a bit of a disappointment, but it is not stopping them from shaking off the winter rust.

"Obviously, it sucks, but rules are put in place for a reason, so we kind of just got to deal with it," said Nick Zirino, who was getting in some practice.

"The restrictions are tough, but I mean they're not terrible," said Scott Morrison, who was also at the driving range.

The City of Winnipeg said its golf courses are following provincial guidelines, including pre-screening golfers before they start their round, and requiring them not to remove the pin from the hole.

More information about City of Winnipeg golf courses can be found online.