Golf Canada CEO asks golfers to stay home

The Canadian Press
John Chidley-Hill

When restrictions on public gatherings to combat the novel coronavirus lift, Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum knows his sport will be ready.
Until then, he hopes that amateur golfers follow the lead of professionals and stay home.
Applebaum spoke about golf’s unique position as a pastime that can lend itself to social distancing on Saturday as he himself was in a 14-day period of self-isolation after attending the PGA Tour’s Players Championship in early March. He’s seen articles and online discussions about how golf is relatively safe during the COVID-19 pandemic but he still advises against playing for now.
“I think it’s really a normal thought to see golf as a great activity with regards to some of the social distancing guidelines that were given, but I would give further thought to the fact that it’s a lot more interactive than you may think at the outset,” said Applebaum. “Everyone has to do their duty to not come into contact with others.
“So we’ll refer to the experts who are giving these guidelines and give Canada a chance to really plank the curve, not just flatten it.”
When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour– which had already cancelled most of its events on the Asian leg of its circuit–cancelled or postponed events at all levels of competition.
Similarly, Golf Canada is likely to cancel or postpone all of its official events and training camps up to mid-May in an effort to protect players and staff.
But the amateur golf season had not truly begun in Canada as the professional game took a pause. Even in parts of the country where it was warm enough to play, courses were still doing their start-of-season maintenance.
The provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec have closed all recreational facilities–including public and private golf courses–as part of those provinces’ efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Municipal courses have also closed, as the cities that operate them closed them along with other public spaces like libraries, rec centres, and arenas.
But private courses in other provinces are still able to open and as spring arrives across Canada many clubs are weighing their options.
Applebaum can’t mandate that they close, but he said he has been in touch with most of the clubs across Canada and strongly suggested they close for the good of public safety.
“My prevailing theory is that in time, the sun will rise again,” said Applebaum. “Golf will rise again and be an incredible part of our lives. It’s just going to take some time and when it does, we’ll be there.”