Americans haven’t been able to play golf at the Aroostook Valley Country Club since last July, because the course straddles the U.S.-Canadian border that has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement that the Canadian government is opening the border to Americans on Aug. 9 is unlikely to change much for players stateside.
While Americans will be able to cross into Canada — and thus play on Aroostook Valley’s course — it comes with the requirements of proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of entering the country.
The 18-hole golf course has become a surprising victim of the border restrictions throughout the pandemic. And as the likelihood of Americans being able to return to playing freely this year diminishes, management fears that the 91-year-old course’s future could be in jeopardy.
“I hope we’ll have some [Americans] come and play the golf course, but this is nowhere near a solution,” Steve Leitch, the golf pro and manager at the Aroostook Valley Country Club, said. “They are still going to have to get tested.”
The golf course and the clubhouse are in Four Falls, New Brunswick, which has allowed the Aroostook Valley Country Club’s Canadian members to continue to play.
The main entrance, the parking lot and the pro shop are in Fort Fairfield, and have been closed for the past year.
The course’s membership numbers are closely split between Americans and Canadians. There had been a 55-45 percent edge in favor of the Americans before the pandemic.
However, since they haven’t been allowed to play, the American members have stopped paying dues.
The country club does receive subsidies from the Canadian government since it is considered a Canadian business.
Leitch said they have seen a 20 percent increase in Canadian members but it doesn’t come anywhere near the numbers they need for long-term stability.
He said if Americans aren’t allowed to play for the rest of the season without first meeting the Canadian border reopening’s requirements, the golf course’s future is uncertain.
“We would have to evaluate it,” Leitch said.