Health & Safety
Golf industry struggling under shutdown
By Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
NEW TECUMSETH TIMES
It was a short-lived opening for the 2021 golf season.
After a few nice days that saw golf courses across the province see record numbers hitting the links, the province wide shut-down placed golf on the prohibited list of activities forcing courses to once again close the fairways and driving ranges.
The list of closures also included tennis clubs, outdoor basketball clubs, and soccer fields, meaning there are no longer any outdoor sports that can be played in the province.
The golfing industry has already called on the provincial government to reverse the decision forcing golf clubs to close citing the fact that Ontario is the only place in North America that has ordered golf clubs to be closed.
Golf, the industry claims, is a safe sport that is ‘naturally aligned to physical distancing,’ while pointing out that using the correct protocols, the sport has not had a single outbreak or COVID transmission.
On top of this, they say the golf gets people outdoors, is good for exercise, relieves stress, and can improve mental health — especially during these difficult times.
The order seems to be a repeat of the skiing season where the provincial government ordered ski resorts to close just as they were heading into their busy season. The move cost the skiing industry $ millions in lost revenue.
“Since December alone, we have issued five formal communications to the government, each time reminding them of the important role golf plays, and the safe manner we do it in,” said Mike Kelly, executive director of Golf Ontario.
“We have innovated and pivoted to safe golf experience. Given all these efforts, protocols, and messaging, I’m struggling to make sense of this. We don’t have all the answers to the many questions, e-mails, texts, and voices we are hearing from. Golf is safe, we all know that. There is no doubt that golf is among the safest outdoor recreational activities at a time when it is needed most for our physical, social, and mental health. After a record demand for golf in 2020, we are well positioned for a brilliant 2021. We know the operational health and safety model executed by our golf facilities is solid. Our leadership group will continue to lean on government officials to support the safe re-opening of our sport.”
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