Golf is returning to The Rock, giving residents a much-needed entertainment option during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bear Valley Golf Course — owned and operated by the United States Coast Guard — is opening Friday, but not without new protocols.
“It is going to be interesting,” course manager Barry Colflesh said. “Social distancing will be in place everywhere.”
That includes on the spacious nine-hole course and inside the clubhouse.
On the course, flagsticks will remain in the hole, while golfers will be encouraged to give “gimme putts.”
A swimming noodle will be inserted in the cup, so golfers will not have to reach in the hole to grab the golf ball.
“It will hold the ball up just a little bit below the surface of the cup so you can pull it (the ball) out that way,” Colflesh said.
Only one person will be allowed in a golf cart unless they are from the same household. Ball, shoe and club cleaners will be removed from the course.
Driving range buckets will be picked up and returned to the clubhouse so that it can be sanitized after every use.
Tee times will not be required, and groups of four are permitted.
In the clubhouse, the food menu will be trimmed to hot dogs, while patrons are encouraged to pay using a debit card or credit card instead of cash.
Only 12 customers will be allowed in the clubhouse at one time. There will also be outside seating.
“It is a new world,” Colflesh said. “Otherwise, everything should be normal.”
Bear Valley typically opens up in late April, but the pandemic pushed the opening back a month. Colflesh, who spent the winter in Tennessee, returned to Kodiak May 8 and is currently finishing his 14-day quarantine.
Because of the late opening, Colflesh said season passes have been discounted $100 to $795 for civilians.
Despite the harsh winter, Colflesh said the course is in decent shape. Groundskeeper Leo Canete has been getting the the ground prepped for the opener.
“It (the winter) did a lot of damage to the greens, but the snow helped the fairways,” he said.
Last summer’s dry weather caused parts of fairways to peel up. The heavy snow helped push the ground back down, Colflesh said.
Colflesh is still planning on hosting popular events, like the ladies nine in wine and the green’s concert. He also noted the men’s league is continuing playing on Thursday nights, with the Kodiak Island Golf Championship — the island’s most prestigious tournament — being held in late August.
“I’m seeing a down year as far as revenue, that is a given,” Colflesh said. “But, it could generate a lot of new golfers because it is something to do — for people to get out and enjoy fresh air.”
Bear Valley is a 3,000-yard, par-36 course located three miles back on Anton Larsen Road. The course opened in 1986 and was spurred by Wayne Berry, head of Special Services — now known as the Coast Guard’s Morale, Well-Being and Recreation department — and Richard Blackburn, head of Public Works at the Coast Guard base.
Once approved by Captain Floyd Rice, a California-based design firm constructed the course — there were plans for 18 holes, but on nine was carved out.