The Lima City Men’s Golf Championship — the biggest, most popular and most competitive golf tournament on the summer sports schedule in the area — has been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, tournament organizers announced on Wednesday.
This is only the fourth time in the last 95 years the tournament will not be played. The other times that happened were in 1942 and 1943 during World War II and in 1982.
The tournament was scheduled to be played June 24-28 at the Bluffton Golf Club, Colonial Golfers Club, Hidden Creek, the Shawnee Country Club and Springbrook.
“Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our players, workers, volunteers and spectators,” Lima City Golf Committee chairman Scott Geier said. “We appreciate this will be disappointing to our players, golf courses and sponsors. However, we have to be as responsible and safe as possible for all.”
Discussion about the future of the 2020 tournament began almost as soon as Gov. Mike DeWine issued his first stay at home order on March 22.
“We talked about it for a couple weeks after that and we decided to wait until May 1 came closer, which is really a long time for us to wait. We’re probably six weeks behind in getting ready. We couldn’t make any decisions,” Geier said.
“With what Gov. DeWine said on Monday, that made it a lot clearer that we were going to have a hard time holding this year’s event,” he said, referring to the governor’s announcement that some businesses can gradually re-open but that large gatherings of people and sports tournaments are among the things still not allowed.
One-hundred thirty-six golfers played in last year’s Lima City Men’s Golf Championship in eight flights.
“Before the stay at home order I already had the entry forms at the printer and we were ready to go. We just kind of pumped the brakes a little bit and luckily we did because the way it’s turning out we’re just going to be unable to have a group of 120 to 130 guys in the same spot,” Geier said.
“We got a lot of questions about ‘What are we going to do?, What are we going to do?’ All those guys, I’m assuming were ready to play. We didn’t really talk to anybody who didn’t want to play. It was just a difficult decision we had to make to protect the players and the volunteers and the spectators. There are a lot of people involved and we just didn’t feel comfortable having a gathering like that in today’s environment.
“In then end, I’m sure there would have been participants who said, ‘I’m not playing, I’m not going to come in contact with all these people.’ The level of participation didn’t really come into our discussion. It was whether we could conduct a good event and more importantly a safe event,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.