As it stands right now. Golf is allowed in many parts of North America and for that matter around the world. As far as the United States goes, reports are that roughly 50% of golf courses have opened and/or re-opened. Among those places is New York state. A paltry 10-minute drive to the Canada-USA border and another 15 minutes beyond that and I could be on a golf course. Unfortunately, the border is closed for non-essential travel. Playing a round of golf would definitely be deemed non-essential.
Meanwhile, in Canada, there are pockets around the country that sees it’s golf courses open. The various Premiers (they’re like governors) of our respective provincial governments have decided to either allow or suspend golf courses from opening. For my lucky golfing sisters and brethren in British Columbia, golfers are able to golf where courses have opened and they elect to go and play, Golf is around the corner for those in Saskatchewan as well. And then there’s my home province of Ontario.
Like it or not, our Premier (Doug Ford) declared some time ago that golf was not deemed an essential service. I agree with him because, in the grand scheme of things, golf is simply not essential. By definition, essential is defined as “absolutely necessary”. Believe me, coming into his handling of the pandemic response I was not a fan of his and I definitely did not cast my vote to elect him. But, he’s proven to be a good leader.
As far as golf being available, I wasn’t too concerned about it. The weather here is suspect at best during this time of the year. It just snowed three out of the last four days, and by all rights, our season technically just opened on the 15th of April. I always look at golf handicap season (April 15th-October 15th) as the “official” golf season in Ontario.
Even from working in golf operations in different capacities, this time of the year at every course that I’ve been involved at, you only get maybe two handfuls of golfers out per day. Some days like we had over the last two days, that number would go down to two or three golfers that were members with zero revenue being made. The course ultimately operating at a loss. Not to mention, many golf courses in Ontario are just starting to see their cart fleets arrive. I sit here chuckling to myself thinking about the brown and gold Club Car transports rolling down the highway. The words “Augusta, Georgia” emblazoned down the side.
The weather of April 25th made things just a little tougher to swallow for us golfers in Ontario. Sunny, a warm wind, and 13ºC or 55ºF temperatures are perfect golf weather early in the spring. In a way, it reminds me of maple syrup season because the proverbial “golf sap” really gets flowing for us. We’re chomping at the bit to escape our igloos, shed our layers of icy skin like a snake, and trade our snowmobile gloves for a Footjoy, TaylorMade, Zero Friction, or similar golf glove.
So today, I’m out and about, driving a vehicle for the first time since January to take my wife to work. About 4 minutes down the street sits Beechwood Golf and Social House. Driving by, I noticed that it’s looking really good. The greens looking inviting to approach shots, the fairways stellar with their flawless mow pattern. The golf course looking absolutely tantalizing. Unfortunately, posted, is a sign that’s pretty clear and is a recurring theme around Ontario golf courses. “Course Closed… No Play”. Yet there they were, golfers parked on the road and on the course. Playing the section of golf course across the road and away from the clubhouse. These are holes 15 thru 17. Not only are they trespassing and engaging in resource theft (maybe they were Members) but they were simply breaking the law by being out there during the lockdown.
The optics are awful. It makes them and other golfers look “entitled” or to be more frank, above the law, and bigger than the issue at hand that we all face. What makes these golfers so “special”? Why should they be able to play when golfers like me and the other estimated 2M Ontarian golfers can’t play or more importantly work at the golf course? The answer, nothing!! So, I contacted the authorities and I have zero regrets about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it! It’s tough to not be able to play golf right now, and as the weather gets nicer, the temptation or need to “scratch the itch” will only get worse. For many golfers, golf is an addiction. Albeit, a relatively healthy addiction, unless you’re overspending your means. Seeing a golf course out there, looking that good right now is like placing a fully-stocked open bar in front of a recovering alcoholic and telling him or her not to drink.
Like you, I hate it, but we all have to abide by what the law says. Stay the course, stay safe, and stay healthy. We’ll all be golfing soon enough, although it won’t be nearly soon enough.
Until The Next Tee!!