This year, almost no event has escaped the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Northern Men’s Open may be no exception.
Normally the the Smithers Golf and Country Club’s biggest tournament of the year, the Northern will likely be slightly smaller this year.
As of Monday, 93 players had registered and registration had been extended to the end of the day today (Sept. 3).
Consequently, some details of the tournament, which starts with a practice round Friday, will not be finalized until registration closes.
This includes how many flights there will be. Last year 119 golfers contended in five flights, A Flight (0-6 handicap), B Flight (7-9), C Flight (10 – 14), D Flight (15 – 18) and E Flight (19-plus).
Some changes have been finalized, however.
“Instead of going off both tees this year, we are only going off one tee,” Pierce explained.
This will include both a morning and an afternoon draw each of the three days.
Also, due to provincial health regulations, only 50 people will be allowed into the clubhouse at one time and social distancing measures will be observed, he said.
Also, instead of the traditional buffet for the closing banquet, golfers will be given a gift certificate to order off the menu.
Pierce said there were other factors for the potentially low turnout beside the pandemic, but declined to name them.
Undoubtedly, though, one is the relentless rain, which has the course in extremely soggy shape.
The club is still looking for volunteers to act as scorers, monitors for the Par 3 closest to the pin competitions and ball spotters.
This year is the 64th annual edition of the tournament.
Last year, Otto Koldyk was overall champion (low gross) with a three-round total of 221 (five-over-par). Darren Grange from Houston won overall net honours with a 200 net score (16-under-par).
Competitors with the best gross and net scores from each flight also received prizes.