By Madison Gummow
Alberta Golf preparing to open for the season, awaiting government approval. They hope to lead the way in the re-opening of non-essential businesses in the province.
Spokesperson for Alberta Golf, Bruce McAllister, says they are working with the government on a daily basis to create new regulations that will allow courses to be open come golf season.
“It would be devastating for the golf community and golf industry if we did not find a positive solution and the Alberta government fully understands that which is why they want to start implementing business openings and I think golf will probably lead the way on that,” said McAllister.
Golf Alberta believes that the sport offers more than just a hobby. It can have a major impact on improving mental health and the economy.
“Sadly, what we are hearing right now is that suicide, addictions and domestic abuse are increasing. People are out of their routines, shut in and it’s unsettling,” said McAllister.
Hundreds of thousands of Albertans go golfing every year and consider golf to be very important for their mental health.
“Golf is trying to be part of the solution. There’s no question that we can be. We have kind of a three pronged problem right now, we’ve got COVID-19, we’ve got a mental health pandemic coming probably and we’re in an economic crisis,” said McAllister.
McAllister thinks the go ahead announcement will be arriving shortly.
“We are back and forth with government officials everyday. [There is] nothing official yet but we do expect to get some positive word here in the next few days,” said McAllister
Sports and exercise psychologist, Myron Duberry, says that with the spike in depression and other mental illnesses triggered by isolation, golf would be a great way for Albertans to combat symptoms.
“Exercise, being out in nature, being out in the sun all have definitely been proven to reduce anxiety and depression,” said Duberry.
Michelle Marshal, General Manager of Country Side Golf Club in Sherwood Park, says the demand for answers is extremely high from golf lovers.
“I’ve had a lot of calls with people wanting to know what’s going on. I had one person call me wanting to know if there was a chance of golf being allowed. When I told him we are gearing towards opening, he actually started crying. He said ‘Everything has just been so doom and gloom and it’s just so nice to hear something positive.’ He actually brought me to tears a bit too because it was just such an emotional conversation,” said Marshal.
Marshal says she can’t think of an activity that would be more perfect to allow under these circumstances, and that when it comes to mental well-being golf is essential.
Golf contributes 2.5 billion dollars to the provincial income annually and employs 42 thousand people. If golf courses remain closed for the season, many courses would be forced to close permanently.
Head Golf Professional at Blackhawk Golf Club, Kevin Chow, says that just because a service is non-essential does not mean it is unsafe.
“Is golf essential? Maybe not, but as far as safety, it’s one of the safest activities for people to partake in right now,” Chow said.
Jason Rasmuson, the General Manager of Coal Creek Golf Resort, says their course would be one of many that would be forced to close permanently if courses don’t open this season.
“If we had to close for the season, it is likely that would be it for us. There are fixed costs on a golf course, we have labour and maintenance fees that would need to be paid regardless of if we are open or not,” said Rasmuson.