The Mount Brenton Golf Club has been an extremely busy place of late, but all was quiet as of Tuesday morning.
British Columbia Golf, the organization that oversees amateur golfers in the province, put out the call to all golf courses in B.C. to close during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s the governing body of amateur golf in the province, representing more than 56,000 members at more than 300 clubs across the province.
In a letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia Golf chief executive officer Kris Jonasson noted: “In this time of major concern throughout our province, country and indeed the global community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia Golf would like to extend our full support in the matter of requesting closure of all play at British Columbia golf courses. We would also request that minimal and required upkeep of the course be permitted, providing maintenance staff follow proper safety procedures and protocols regarding COVID-19.
“While we do not take this decision lightly whatsoever, we realize that in the best interests of all golfers, their families and loved ones, staying away from golf facilities in order to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ is the most responsible and prudent thing to do.”
The Mount Brenton Golf Club’s board of directors met late Monday afternoon and made a decision to comply with the British Columbia Golf directive.
“After careful consideration we regret to inform our members and guests that Mount Brenton Golf Course is closed effective immediately until further notice,” a statement from the board indicated. “The safety of our members, guests and staff is paramount and the COVID-19 situation has escalated to a point where operating any further compromises safety and disregards government directives.
“We have implemented a hard closure of our course which means all use of our golf course, clubhouse and practice areas is strictly disallowed until further notice. A more detailed communication will be sent out very soon.”
Mount Brenton Golf Club president Art Kendall said a combination of factors led to the local decision, including the continual messages from the provincial government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Canadians to stay at home.
“We made so many changes at the golf club over the last 10 days to make it safe,” Kendall said.
The pro shop was locked up, rakes removed and so much more.
“We made every effort to make it touch-proof and safe,” Kendall emphasized. “There comes a point you can’t make it safe enough where we’re at right now. I think we all know the cases and the transmission of the disease is escalating on a daily basis.”
One of the concerns at Mount Brenton was the new golf cart storage facility and Kendall said with so many people touching locks, it couldn’t be made safe.
“We implemented as many safeguards as we could to keep it going,” he stressed.
The shutdown follows busy days at the course as people gravitated to golf as one of the few activities they were allowed, with social distancing easier to maintain by virtue of the space between players.
“There will be a lot of people disappointed,” Kendall conceded. “It was evident to us it was like therapy for people. They felt it was something they could do to get out of the house and take a walk in the park.
“It was very busy, busier than we’ve ever seen in a March previously.”
Not everyone thinks it’s the right thing to do to shut down golf.
One outspoken critic, Doug Hawley, managing director of the Redwoods Golf Course in Langley, said British Columbia Golf was “overstepping.”
“I am shocked that a statement like this has gone forward without any consultation with actual golf course operators,” he commented.
– with a file from Dan Ferguson, Langley Advance Times.