Two QB golf courses defy pleas to remain closed

APRIL 21, 2020 – While everyone – including children and non-essential workers – is being asked to do their part to protect against the spread of the corona virus COVID-19 by staying home or in their neighbourhoods except for outings to obtain necessities, two local golf courses are not co-operating with these directives.

Arrowsmith and Pheasant Glen remain open for business, implying that they are doing so with the approval of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Island Health.

Sign at Pheasant Glen Golf Club entrance

“We have been in contact with Island Health and are abiding by all regulations,” says Arrowsmith Golf and Country Club general manager Pat Jiggins, as reported by PQB News . He claims that “everyone on the property obeys physical distancing.”

Pheasant Glen Golf Resort head pro Gord Melissa said their course will be open, with some restrictions. The restrictions include: golfers are to keep a safe physical distance, refrain from high-fiving each other, leave the pin in while putting, and turn cups upside down and lift one inch above ground so golfers don’t remove flagsticks or reach into the cup to retrieve their ball.

However, as Bob Weeks of TSN said,  “maintaining the required distance – two metres (six feet) from those around you – can be tricky, even on a wide-open course.”

Indeed. As noted in photos below, a trio of golfers playing at one of the two QB courses on April 20 was witnessed not maintaining safe physical distances from each other.

All other golf courses in the vicinity of Qualicum Beach are closed indefinitely. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec have ordered all golf courses to close, and Ontario has closed all non-essential businesses, which includes golf courses. In Vancouver, CBC News reports that Langara Golf Course is open – but only to prepare food hampers for social housing residents. 

According to the TSN report, in mid-March Golf Canada’s chief executive officer, Laurence Applebaum, issued an appeal for golfers to stay home until the pandemic is under control. Applebaum said golf is “… a lot more interactive than you may think at the outset. Everyone has to do their duty to not come into contact with others.”

On March 22, BC Golf’s executive director Kris Jonasson sent a letter to BC’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry calling for all golf courses in BC to be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jonasson’s letter stated “While we do not take this decision lightly whatsoever, we realize that in the best interest 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.”

Jonasson later told the Langley Advance Times, “Nobody should play golf at this time. We’ve seen too many examples of people not following the guideline. It was just becoming increasingly clear that no one was respecting social distancing.”

In response to the statements and letters from BC Golf and Golf Canada executives, Pheasant Glen launched a form letter campaign to “publicly call for the opening and re-opening of golf courses across BC and the country.”

The form letter, addressed to BC Golf and Golf Canada, states in part, “BC’s Chief medical Officer [sic], Bonnie Henry, has recommended we all get outside and exercise while following social distancing protocols. There is no better way to do so than by playing our great game. Stand up for golf gentlemen or stand down.”

Why have these two local golf courses chosen to increase QB’s risk of community-spread infection when other non-essential businesses here, in BC and elsewhere have shut down, and people everywhere are respecting the directive to stay home?