Please forgive an aged scribe for reminiscing about a simpler time when the main concern was whether Tiger Woods and other marquee players would cross the border for the RBC Canadian Open.
Of course, that dates back to when the Open was played in early September. It was eventually pushed forward to July and then to its current dates in early June.
Alas, there has been just one playing of the Open in those new June dates, but Rory McIlroy’s win in 2019 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club was a positive first impression.
The world has changed dramatically since then due to COVID-19. These days, who’s crossing the border to play in the Open is still important, but first things first.
The primary concern is whether anybody will be crossing to play the Open at all, because for the second consecutive year, there may not be an Open unless you’re buying into the story that the national championship will be played outside of Canada this year as a possible alternative option.
The wild card with that option is what will happen in the near future as local and state officials, as well new President Joe Biden, take steps to combat coronavirus, which has taken such a human toll in the United States?
From a Canadian perspective, would it even seem like our national championship if it’s played outside our borders, or would most in this country be content in the belief that desperate times call for desperate measures?
Here at home, the federal government and the provincial government in Ontario, where the Open is to be played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, with the practice facility at nearby Islington Golf Club, are taking desperate measures of their own as they combat coronavirus.
Oddly enough, case counts in Ontario have been on the decline recently, but the concern is more transmissible variants that are being detected in the province and the slow rollout and delivery of vaccines.
As it stands right now, the lockdown in Ontario will expire on Feb. 11, but expect that to be extended unless the daily case counts fall below 1,000 for awhile. On Sunday, the province announced 1,848 new COVID-19 cases, with another 1,969. on Monday.
The U.S.-Canada land border closure to non-essential travel, first imposed last March, remains in effect until Feb. 21, but expect that to be extended, as well.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all arrivals into Canada must quarantine in an approved hotel for at least three days, while waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test taken at the airport, as part of their 14-day quarantine.
That hotel stay is expected to cost $2,000 per person coming into the country and several Canadians down south have said they will extend their stays in the U.S. to avoid both the expense and the hassle. It doesn’t take much to figure out how a PGA Tour player would feel about all that for a one week visit to play in a tournament.
That remains in effect until April 30. Last year, the official word on the 2020 RBC Canadian Open being cancelled came on April 16.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also announced on Friday new measures to take effect until the new federal rules could be implemented and to be used going forward in the pandemic.
COVID-19 is a moving target that mutates, advances, retreats and returns and the government measures used to combat it often seem like piling on. Not only is each new regulation frustrating to both tournament organizers and fans, but the other concern is what’s coming down the pike?
Such is the way of the world in 2021 and there’s no end in sight for golf or any other business. For now, we have to ride it out until the day we can again concern ourselves with who’s teeing it up at the national championship as opposed to whether the RBC Canadian Open will even be played.
The day we can concern ourselves with golf and its players instead of a potentially deadly virus is a time that not only ancient scribes and tournament officials dream of, but one that the game’s fans of all ages will appreciate even more when it finally does arrive.