Ontario’s golf season put on pause by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions

Late Friday afternoon, the Ontario provincial government not only extended the stay-at-home order by two weeks, but made further restrictions.

Among them was the closure of recreational facilities, such as golf courses.

A month ago, the Oshawa Airport Golf Club tee’d off its season, and on Monday there was not a golfer in sight.

“I was stunned that they would only give us four hours to shut down an entire golf course,” said Robert Perkins, owner of Oshawa Airport Golf Club.

Perkins has been operating the course for the past 30 years, and says they were booked solid for the weekend — bookings that had to be cancelled at the last minute, thanks to new measures imposed by the province on Friday.

“They back off the playgrounds and they back off the police powers but they leave the golf courses shut. I really don’t understand what’s going on,” said Perkins.

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Read more: Royal Ashburn Golf Club providing new outdoor wedding venue option

Right now, Perkins says, he’s set to lose thousands of dollars a week not operating. He worries about how substantial that loss could wind up being, by the time golfers are able to once again hit the links.

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“We’ve spent a small fortune making sure everything is safe. The carts are sanitized after every use — pull carts, power carts, we don’t do rental clubs anymore because it’s too dangerous. We don’t combine groups together. There’s no bunker rakes, you can’t touch the flag, it’s contactless golf,” said Perkins.

“Just being outside, it’s not just the golf,” said golfer Richard Smith.

Behind the Oshawa Airport Golf Club fence is as close as Smith can get to being on the course.  He was able to get in about 10 rounds before the government hit the pause button on the season.

“We’re following the rules. It’s just too bad — sometimes, carte blanche, everything has to be closed. Maybe they’ll reconcile this and rethink it and re-open it up,” said Smith.

Read more: Oshawa Airport Golf Club opens for season

“The outdoor activities is probably the most perplexing,” said Dr. Raywatt Deonandon, epidemiologist.

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Dr. Deonandon says the third wave isn’t being driven by outdoor activity.

“There’s something to be said for (acting) hard now so that we have perfection, a ramp up to perfection soon. Having said that, there is no need to curtail certain outdoor activities now,” said Dr. Deonandon.

As for Robert Perkins, he says it feels like deja vu after what he endured last year, and all he can do is wait for the government’s next move.

“The weather’s cooperating,” said Perkins. “I don’t know about everybody else.”

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