Golf courses to stay closed in Saskatchewan
Golf will not be immune to COVID-19
While you might get an argument from many people in the province, according to the Saskatchewan government, golf is not considered an essential service.
What that means is, in the current health crisis, you will not be allowed on a golf course, in this province anyway, for the indefinite future.
"It looks as though getting to physically get out and play golf, if it was available, is on pause for right at the moment," said Golf Saskatchewan executive director Brian Lee.
Even though golf courses were not specifically mentioned on the province's list of "non-allowable business services" released on March 25, a follow-up email to the Saskatchewan Health Authority from Golf Saskatchewan states courses will likely be closed at season opening.
"The government of Saskatchewan has asked us not to portray golf as an activity even though in other jurisdictions, not Saskatchewan, it is stated you can play it, if you're following social distancing. It's just something that hasn't been given the green light here yet."
If there is an outdoor activity that could probably get away with social distancing, it would be golf.
Close the concessions, ban the motorized carts, eliminate the customary etiquette of shaking hands and it's doable.
However, Lee and many others in the golf world feel now is not the time to push the issue of getting the season started — even when weather permits.
Advocacy group We Are Golf recently issued a statement on Golf Canada's website.
"Where governments have not mandated the temporary closure of golf courses, operators of those facilities should take every health and safety precaution. We look forward to better and healthier days and when the time is right for Canadians to return to recreational normalcy, clubs and courses will be ready to welcome golfers back to the tee."
While courses in Saskatchewan will be closed to the public, owner/operators will be allowed to keep on staff. Without regular maintenance, most courses will not survive.
"They will be able to maintain the assets so they can get the machinery ready and take the tarps off and get prepared for a golf season when the government of Saskatchewan or the government of Canada gets the green light going," said Lee.
However the financial hit from not taking in membership fees, dues and green fees for a season may put some clubs in the deep rough.
"It could be a major impact," said Lee.
"Trying to show a reduction in revenue in your business of 30 per cent might be difficult, because in Saskatchewan most of our golf courses aren't open taking green fees until late April or May."
The Golf Saskatchewan website (golfsaskatchewan.org) will have information on federal emergency business plans that owner/operators may be able to take advantage of.
Lee has little doubt golf will eventually be played this year. He says, like everyone else, they are just taking it day by day.
"Practise your skills at home if you can, even if it's just putting into a coffee cup. Until that curve gets flattened, stay put and stay safe with your friends and family until the golf season can get off on the right foot."