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Shutdown threatens survival of Northern Ontario golf industry: association president

"We believe the restrictions should be removed because we believe we have proven that golf is a safe activity during this pandemic"
20210510 golf club ball and glove shutterstock_123684376 2016

The president of the Northern Golf Association Archie Berube is warning that lockdowns are jeopardizing the industry in Northern Ontario.

Berube has written a letter to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities asking for support to remove the current restriction on golf in Northern Ontario because of the provincewide stay-at-home order.

"We believe the restrictions should be removed because we believe we have proven that golf is a safe activity during this pandemic," wrote Berube. "More importantly, the very survival of an industry that contributes greatly to the health and the economy of Northern Ontario may be at stake if golf courses remain shuttered."

The NGA is a non-profit organization representing 30 golf courses located as far south as Katrine on Highway 11, Parry Sound on Highway 69, west on Highway 17 to Sault Ste. Marie and north to Wawa, east to Mattawa and north along Highway 11 to Hearst.

Many of the clubs are small, board-run facilities that are often operated by volunteers, said Berube.

"To survive financially, these courses require consistent participation during the season. In addition, golf courses in Northern Ontario employ hundreds of full-time, part-time and seasonal staff, and are significant contributors to many of your local economies," he wrote.

Just recently, a golf course in Tillsonburg, announced they were opening despite the COVID guidelines and it and its members paid the price. 

 Police started ticketing golfers after they left the course.

The local OPP stationed officers around the course and were taking photos of people on the 9th and 17th holes on Sunday, May 2.

That caused the golf course to rethink its defiance and issue a statement.

"Despite strong local support and support throughout the province, the enforcement by the provincial government has been overbearing. The threats and fines have adversely affected our ability to continue playing golf safely. As such, we are no longer able to bring awareness to the benefits of outdoor activities, by continuing to remain open," reads the statement.

Meanwhile, Berube continues to argue that golf courses are safe and is imploring the province to lift the ban on golf and other outdoor activities.

"Our member courses are professionally managed and have adopted modern safety protocols to meet the challenge of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020. Golf is a significant recreational activity that contributes to the mental and physical health of many people. Last season, over 20 million rounds of golf were played in Canada without a single outbreak of Covid-19 recorded, proving that golf is a safe physical outlet for people of all ages and socio-economic groups," he wrote.

"Daily COVID-19 case counts are now in the single digits among many northern Ontario health units, with seven-day rolling averages now falling. With vaccination levels at record highs across the entire province, safe, outdoor recreation must be part of the solution to the challenge of Covid-19. We know that our game is safe -- the industry proved that last season.

Spent some time past midnight chatting with @OwenRigg of @golf_nga

Their letter appealing to The Federation of Northern Municipalities to support them in efforts to remove current restrictions on golf in Northern Ontario where many small clubs are board/volunteer run pic.twitter.com/Q6hN4YgZNL

— Flagstick Golf (@Flagstick) May 8, 2021