Tillsonburg, Ont. golf course defies Ontario provincial order by opening
TILLSONBURG, ONT. -- Security guarded the entrance to The Bridges at Tillsonburg golf course in Tillsonburg, Ont. Saturday morning.
"Good morning, how you doing? Do you have tee time?" said the guard at the entrance when a car pulled up.
The two guards were flanked by pylons which help block the driveway.
The first group of players went off the first tee at just after 9 am.
Unable to access them on golf course property, we spoke to the players after the 10th hole which crosses a public walking path.
"We definitely expected a lot more people because when we looked online all the tee times were taken," said the one golfer from London, Ont. who wished to remain anonymous.
"We expected to see a little more OPP presence. I haven't seen any of them today so that's good".
OPP watch golfers at The Bridges in Tillsonburg, Ont. on April 24, 2021. (Brent Lale/CTV London)
However OPP officers were there. They were parked across the street from the fourth hole, and police said to CTV News there were 'observing'. Late Saturday West Region OPP told CTV news “it’s under investigation” when asked if any fines were handed out.
Golfer Glenn Styres from Six Nations of the Grand River was celebrating his birthday on the course.
"We called and checked the website but were not sure there was a real indication that it was really happening and that it was really booked but when we got here was golf as normal," says Styres.
"I have both of my COVID shots so I feel safe, you know because it's not like a contact sport".
Danielle Johnson agreed.
"They have the tee times spread out pretty far so it's good," says Johnson.
Golfers Glenn Styres and Danielle Johnson at The Bridges in Tillsonburg, Ont. on April 24, 2021. (Brent Lale/CTV London)
Security guards hired by the course owners were patrolling in a golf cart, keeping the media and the public off the property. Throughout the morning many people stopped their cars along the side of the road to witness what was happening.
One of those was Dan Evely who had a tee time booked this morning, but changed his mind.
"The fact it is illegal, and it could hurt the golf courses," was Evely's response to why he didn't play.
'There were eight of us that were supposed to golf, but I know at least four or five that didn't come. I have enough aggravation in my life, I don't need a ticket."
Tim Magnus and Leslie Kamps were walking their dog nearby. They have a tee time booked for Tuesday.
"There are three of us, and we all live together, so we are going to golf," says Kamps.
Magnus says golf is completely safe.
"Common sense all over the province has to prevail," says Magnus.
"There is zero probability of getting Covid out here so why are you locked down?"
Maggie Beaumont and Jillian Ravin are Tillsonburg residents who aren't exactly loving their town being in the news for this reason.
"I like to see them out, but i also don't like seeing people breaking this order because we might in longer," says Beaumont.
The Ontario government announced measures April 16 which included restrictions on outdoor activities including golf and tennis. Premier Doug Ford has not provided a reason why golf has been shut down.
The National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada says there were 20 million rounds of golf played in Ontario in 2020 and the closure is "depriving Ontario citizens of some much-needed healthy recreation".
Golf Ontario does not support what is happening in Tillsonburg. Executive Director Mike Kelly says he would like to see courses open by going through the proper channels, and he is worried that this may undo all their work behind the scenes with the government.
The head professional of the Bridges at Tillsonburg was not available for comment Saturday. He had said earlier in the week that he 'personally wouldn't be involved until golf is allowed to reopen along with government guidelines'.
CTV News reached out to the owners of the course, but have received no response at this time.