Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his government have announced further restrictions to multiple industries across the province as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic effective at 12:01am on Saturday April 17th. Included in this announcement is the unfortunate news that outdoor golf courses and driving ranges in the province must be closed as of 12:01 am on Saturday, April 17th. This is in conjunction with the stay-at-home order that has been extended by a further 2 weeks to May 20.
Ontario’s We Are Golf partners have been actively engaged with the Ontario government throughout this process, right up to and including this morning. The key message is that:
We have reiterated our commitment as a golf industry to continue to be a leader in Ontario in providing one of these safe recreational activities that will be so important in the coming weeks.
Golf organisations are disappointed the Ontario government made the decision today to close golf courses and driving ranges as of April 17th. But it is clear they made a broad decision with health and safety as the top priority to eliminate any non-essential activities, including removing access to outdoor recreational amenities.
The Ontario We Are Golf team, comprised of Golf Ontario, National Golf Course Owners Association Canada, PGA of Ontario, Ontario Golf Superintendents’ Association and the Ontario Branch Director Canadian Society of Club Managers, will continue to communicate with the government in an appropriate manner to ensure they fully understand the benefits of having golf open as a recreational option.
Golf is an important outlet and will continue to make this case with the hope that we are able return to allowing courses to open as soon as possible. Some important factors to remember about golf – the most played sport in Canada.
- Golf is naturally aligned to physical distancing. It takes place in vast outdoor spaces and is played with 4 people or less. Perhaps no other sport is this well positioned against this terrible virus.
- Our protocols are well established and safe. We proved in 2020 that with the right protocols golf had no COVID outbreaks. We are committed to these (and more) protocols in 2021. Here is a link to the NGCOA Canada’s Best Practices & Operational Resources that was created last season, updated for 2021.
- Clear and consistent screening procedures – golfers must book a tee-time, can pre-pay, and are screened before entering facilities.
- Golf has important health benefits – studies are clear about golf … it gets people outside, it is good for your heart, it relieves stress, and it can improve mental health.
Ontario’s We are Golf partners will continue to push for the safe inclusion of golf courses and driving ranges as options that can be open in this stay-at-home order. Golf is an important to the well being of so many and it is safe to play.