There hasn’t been much said or written in the golf media about the wildfires burning across the country and I suspect that’s because the flames haven’t directly impacted any golf courses to my knowledge,
Let’s hope it stays that way, but even if golf courses do escape the actual fires, business is affected. Close to 800 fires were burning across the western half of the land, including 300 in British Columbia, where a long awaited state of emergency was declared on Tuesday, and as far east as northwestern Ontario.
Air quality alerts were issued by Environment Canada on Tuesday for cities such as Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg, where the air quality health index rose above 10, meaning high risk to human health.
Alerts and warnings were issued for as far east as Montreal, Quebec and New Brunswick.
Symptoms can include increased coughing, headaches and shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with lung and heart issue were being warned to curtail outdoor activities such as golf.
I spoke with Tiffany Gordon, director of clubhouse operations at Carnmoney Golf Club near Calgary, about the air quality in that area on Monday.
Tiff says early that morning, she thought the clocks were wrong because it was darker than usual due to the smoke in the area.
She added that junior lessons that evening were cancelled and players were coming off the golf course after nine holes, saying that’s all they could handle due to the smoke.
As for staff members, some were wearing masks for outdoor work, not due to COVID, but to protect them against the smoke. Some staff stayed home and others were given indoor duties.
You can watch all of my chat with Tiff here.
I also spoke with Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Richard Zokol, now golf and real estate specialist at Predator Ridge in Vernon, B.C., here and here and he pointed out that the heat and fire season came so early that it’s likely to be more of the same for the rest of the summer.
So far, he’s correct. There are no weather conditions that might help with the wildfire situation in the affected areas for the coming week, so that and air quality issues are expected to continue.
As Tiff mentioned, you feel for the people being evacuated, not knowing if they’ll find their homes intact when they return. Loss of property, whether it’s a home or business, is a devastating loss and people’s health is a major concern, be it golfers, employees or the general public.
With COVID-19 not yet behind us, let’s hope that this latest threat to home, businesses and individuals ends sooner rather than later.