Golfers plead with province to reverse decision to close courses
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The province has faced a tremendous amount of blowback over recent decisions to close playgrounds and other outdoor amenities since announcing new lockdown restrictions last Friday.
The golfing community is now joining the effort to get restrictions reversed.
“Obviously with the playground thing over the weekend, where playgrounds were proven safe, well, we’re an adult playground here. We don’t have slides, we have greens,” says Larissa LeGros-Vellinga, who owns and operates Deer Run Golf Course in Blenheim.
It’s one of roughly 800 courses in Ontario that were closed on April 17.
“With over 1.8 million golfers in Ontario who golfed numerous rounds last year, there was not one COVID-19 case linked to golf in Ontario,” LeGros-Vellinga says.
She’s not alone. Her feelings are shared by a conglomeration of golf organizations, currently lobbying the government under the banner, “We are Golf.”
“We’re the only jurisdiction in Northa America right now where golf is banned,” says Dave Struthers, the manager of marketing and communications for Golf Ontario.
He says advice from the Ontario COVID science advisory table has been clear: the closure of outdoor amenities like golf — is not necessary.
The organization is sending letters to Premier Ford, suggesting he listen to that medical advice.
“We believe we’ve got science on our side and facts on our side and a proven set of protocols from last year,” says Struthers.
More voices in the medical community are now entering the fray.
“I think our emphasis on closing outdoor recreation is misguided,” says
Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist. “It represents a belief that we cannot educate people. It represents a belief that it’s easier to tell people to stay at home and that that will work. Well it doesn’t.”
Leadership within the organization is confident golf will be among the first outdoor activities to reopen.
Pam LeGros, who helped open Deer Run Golf Course 27 years ago, says outdoor activities are needed now, more than ever for both physical and mental health.
“Everybody needs that, to get out. We’re been locked up long enough,” says LeGros. “Enough is enough.”