Canadian golf club association asks members courses to follow health guidelines

The National Allied Golf Associations wants its member courses to listen to authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization issued a statement on Wednesday asking golf clubs across the country to follow the guidelines laid out by Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and other public officials.

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"As leaders in an industry that employs more than 300,000 Canadians and includes nearly six million golfers from coast to coast, our priority above all else is the health and safety of people and our communities," said NAGA.

NAGA is made up of five of the central organizations in Canadian golf including: Golf Canada, Canadian Golf Superintendent Association, Professional Golfers' Association of Canada, Canadian Society of Club Managers and National Golf Course Owners Association Canada.

Quebec and New Brunswick had already mandated the closure of recreational facilities like golf clubs and Ontario's state of emergency shut all non-essential businesses, including golf clubs.

Although NAGA doesn't have the power to tell individual courses to close, it recommended that clubs no longer allow play during the novel coronavirus crisis even if it's legally still permitted in the area.

"Where governments have not mandated the temporary closure of golf courses, operators of those facilities should take every health and safety precaution," said the statement.

NAGA said it still supports the ongoing maintenance of courses so that when health restrictions are lifted the clubs can resume business as quickly as possible.

The statement comes three days after Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum told The Canadian Press that amateur golfers should stay home during the pandemic.

When the WHO 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.

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 its players and staff.

Many amateur golfers, however, continued to play where weather allowed because of the relatively solitary nature of golf. The sport was described as "perfect" for social distancing in many online forums, leading to Applebaum's public appeal for amateur players to stay home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.

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