There is no foot traffic on the lush greens of Ontario’s golf courses.
The industry was rocked by the Ford government’s decision to close them down as part of the provincial stay-at-home order that began Apr 16.
With several weeks to go before May 20 and the possibility the lockdown will be lifted, golfing enthusiasts and course owners are pushing hard to get the province to immediately reopen courses.
“We can create a safe haven with as many restrictions as possible to ensure the safety of all players,” said Richard Edmonds, General Manager and Managing Partner of Tangle Creek Golf and Country Club near Barrie.
Edmonds also sits on the Central Ontario chapter of the national advisory board of the National Golf Course Owners Association.
He said golf was very safe in 2020. As far as Edmonds is aware, there were no COVID-19 cases in the province due to the game of golf last year, with 20 million rounds played in Ontario by nearly two million golfers.
Edmonds reminds people that golf is also the livelihood and income for many people.
“Our industry employs hundreds of thousands of people across Canada,” he said.
The interview with Edmonds took place on Saturday, May 1, and the weather in Barrie was sunny and around 15 degrees. Edmonds estimates on a day like that an average golf course, whether a public or private facility, could generate close to $20,000 in revenue.
Golf isn’t the only outdoor activity that has been sidelined by the lockdown. All outdoor sports facilities including skate parks, basketball courts and tennis courts are closed.
A golf course in Tillsonburg, southeast of London, defied the government rules last week and opened to the public. The Bridges was charged under the Reopening Ontario Act on Thursday. Ontario Provincial Police announced on Saturday that five individuals at the golf club have also been charged, but did not offer further details.
“Our industry wouldn’t encourage what Tillsonburg did,” said Edmonds. “I know there is a lot of operators that are fed up with the whole situation.”
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones confirmed to CP24 on Friday that conversations were underway about what outdoor activities can safely resume during the stay-at-home order.
“I think it is important that we don’t just talk about golf but we talk about outdoor activities in general,” Jones said.
The province initially closed playgrounds and then backtracked after facing intense blowback from the public.
Edmonds is hopeful there can be a resolution and people can get to enjoy their sporting activities.
“Golf is an outlet to remove yourself from the day-to-day busyness of life. It’s a mental escape for a lot of people.”