This weekend will mark one full year since Ontario golf courses were given the provincial government’s blessing to reopen after its lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, just to clarify, we are talking 2020, not 2021.
How golf courses/golfers and the entire industry would love to have history repeat itself this weekend, but the most likely action that will take place on a golf course in the province is aeration.
If history did repeat itself, the golf industry in Ontario would be facing a summer of safe recreation this year after a 2020 season in which it adjusted to social distancing and all the protocols needed to keep players and staff members healthy and it worked.
The effort and expense that it took was worth it in order to keep people safe, but didn’t mean much to the provincial government, which included golf in its most recent stay-at-home order that came nearly a month ago.
That order that was to expire May 20 will include golf if it’s extended to June 2 and it could go beyond that. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said this week that closing golf courses wasn’t about the safety of the game, but rather, limiting mobility and socializing.
Hopefully, We Are Golf, the group representing the industry in discussions with the Ontario government, has pointed out that socializing has been kept to a minimum for a year in golf, which is the reason that it is a safe pastime. Golfers have respected the precautions that have been put in place and will continue to do so, if given the chance.
Yet, the anger is bubbling over among those who put the safety protocols in place last year and those who respected them.
Several have criticized We Are Golf for being too diplomatic in its dealings with the provincial government, yet many social media posts have berated, embarrassed and insulted Premier Doug Ford and his crew to no avail, other than to vent.
The Ontario government has received petitions from the public, letters from physicians, municipalities and others to open golf courses and other recreational facilities and the more the better, but there has been no change. Columns and blogs have been written and many have threatened to seek revenge in the next election.
Yet, the government still hasn’t budged.
Will We Are Golf flipping the bird at Queen’s Park really change the situation?
For that matter, neither will any civil disobedience by golf courses that consider reopening before the stay-at-home order ends as a recent email among operators suggested. Bridges at Tillsonburg discovered the ramifications of that with the fines it and golfers now face after going against the order a couple of weeks ago.
Public criticism of a government is fair game, but civil disobedience could have lasting consequences beyond the stay-at-home order or, for that matter, the pandemic itself.
We Are Golf needs to keep it’s eyes on the prize and that’s getting golf courses opened with the provincial government’s approval. Destroying the line of communication is not the way to get that done.