EDMONTON -- Golf courses will be among the first spaces to open as Alberta relaunches its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney outlined three phases Alberta will follow to get the economy back on track after weeks of little to no activity as a result of the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

A day later, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw signed an order to allow golf courses to reopen as early as Saturday.

The Ranch Golf and Country Club is one of the golf courses in Edmonton ready to welcome customers for the 2020 season.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind, but it's official," said Murray McCourt, the golf course's general manager, executive golf professional and part owner. "It was quick, but 100 per cent we've been preparing for this day for quite some time."

In her order, Hinshaw says golf courses must follow the following guidelines:

  • Implement practices to minimize the risk of infection
  • Have procedures for a rapid response if a worker or customer develops symptoms
  • Ensure sanitation and personal hygiene
  • Have bookings and retail sales online
  • Clean and disinfect items rented to golfers

Pro shops and restaurants will be closed for the time being but food and drink will be available to go.

"We're working under this park-and-play model where you phone in or online your tee time and pay for it," Kevin Smith with Alberta Golf said. "You show up to the course no more than 15 minutes before your tee time, you get out of the car, you go to a sanitized cart, you get out on the course, you drive just by yourself or if you came with someone you can be with them in the cart, you social distance, you never touch the pin or the flag."

McCourt added only one person will be allowed per cart, unless the two live together.

Despite all the restrictions, McCourt expects his golf course to be busy right away.

"Those phones have been ringing absolutely non-stop," he said.

"I think this is part of the solution going forward in this province when it comes to physical health, mental health and also the economy since golf is a $2.5-billion industry that employs over 40,000 people in the province," Smith said.

City-owned golf courses will not open Saturday, but council is scheduled to discuss their opening date next week.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg