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City replaces golf ball washers with buckets of water

A city official says the money that's saved will go toward turf maintenance

THUNDER BAY — Some Thunder Bay golfers are teed off because of a decision to permanently do away with the use of golf ball washers on the two city-operated courses.

A city official, though, says this ultimately will help keep the courses in good condition.

The washers, along with sand trap rakes, were initially removed as part of COVID-19 precautions to reduce the number of common touchpoints and mitigate the spread of the virus.

The rakes have now been returned to the bunkers, while the ball cleaners remain in storage.

Although there has been some pushback, supervisor of Golf Services Pat Berezowski says golf ball washers became a convenience over the years, and he believes that during the pandemic people got used to their absence. 

In an interview Monday, he also said maintaining them came at a price.

"It's a real cost for the golf course to not only to replace the ball washers, or the parts, when they're broken, but just for the labour that goes into maintaining them. The fluids it takes to put in the ball washer, the towels that go beside the washer. We bring them in in the winter, we put them back out in the spring, so all these types of labour costs can be avoided if we come up with another option, and that's what we've tried to do here."

That other option is for golfers to dip a towel in buckets of water that have been placed at the first and 10th tees of the Chapples and Strathcona courses.

Berezowski said most golfers already have towels attached to their bags, but they can also be purchased at the clubhouse for five dollars.

"By wetting your towel you're able to wash that golf ball throughout the golf course, not just on the first tee or the second or the fifth tee. Maybe you want to use that towel to wash your clubs during a round of golf as well.  Maybe you hit a big divot on one of the holes and you have a lot of mud on your club, so you can use that well towel to not only do your golf ball but your club as well."

He said the city hopes golfers also understand that the money that's being saved in labour and parts costs can go into other things that are important for keeping the courses in good shape.

"Just try to realize from your own perspective what you can do to help your golf course. And if you can do something yourself to look after your equipment, it really will help the golf course in the long run...and allow us more time to put into turf maintenance."

Three privately-operated golf courses in the Thunder Bay area that were contacted at random by TBnewswatch all continue to provide ball washing equipment for their players.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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