Coronavirus Shuts Down River Road For 2020

City Makes Bogey With Its Decision To Keep Course Closed










by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

River Road Golf Course, the City of London’s weakest link amongst its stable of golf clubs, will remain closed this season.

London City Council has voted 9-4 to keep the course closed for all of the 2020 season.

As reported earlier – click here – River Road had already been targeted for extinction by a City-commissioned KPMG study. However, the City said in mid-February here that it would keep River Road open at least for 2020.

However, as we reported here, River Road remained shut as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the entire world.

Photo: Jeffrey Reed/

Via social media, local golfers have been crying for the City to open River Road because of jam-packed tee times at the other two municipal clubs – Fanshawe Golf Club’s Traditional and Quarry 18-hole layouts, and Thames Valley’s 18-hole course.

With COVID-19 seeing strict rules and regulations in place, including bigger gaps between tee times, and concurrently a large demand for tee times, thanks to good weather, layoffs from work and school plus a desire to get outdoors following quarantine, all local golf courses have been extremely busy.

Now, as part of the City’s multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, River Road’s doors will remain shut for the remainder of 2020.

The muni golf system projected River Road would see a deficit of between $50,000 and $83,000 this season.

As compensation to City golf members, annual membership costs are now be pro-rated.

“As hard as it is to hear for those who enjoy (River Road), this is probably the best thing for golf in the long term,” said Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan. He said shutting down the course for 2020 would help pay for River Road improvements.

“We’re going to end up losing money on golf this year already,” Morgan said of the truncated season blamed on the pandemic. “We’re going to end up probably having to draw down from the reserve fund, which supports improvements to the course and operations of the courses.”

The 9-4 vote to keep River Road closed saw only Councillors Michael van Holst, Steve Lehman, Paul Van Meerbergen and Steve Hillier step up to the first tee for an opening.

Van Meerbergen didn’t putter around with his words, citing a “pent-up demand” for his wish to open the east London club. He went as far as to say opening the course would offer an “opportunity for increased revenue.”

Van Meerbergen is right in his assessment. Unfortunately, it appears that the City has used the pandemic as an excuse to keep the club closed in order to save money.

But as Van Meerbergen said, it makes more sense to open River Road than to keep it closed.

The City has made a bogey with its decision.

Now we must await the future of River Road.


Jeffrey Reed has covered the golf scene in Southwestern Ontario since 1980. Reach him at

Update: July 2, 2020 from City of London

Many of you will be aware that as the City of London continues to respond to the many impacts of COVID-19, a number of our services have been modified. These changes have come in part to help prevent the spread of this virus, and also as a result of additional financial pressures.

Today, we are confirming that River Road will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season. Members with an adult or senior unlimited membership will be refunded the difference between the unlimited and value membership. If you fall into one of these categories, please discuss with our pro-shop staff as your account will be automatically credited the difference.

To help address some of the concerns we have heard, we are making some additional modifications at Thames Valley and Fanshawe Golf Courses. The following changes are being made:

*Tee time intervals have been reduced from 12 minutes to 10 minutes
*The first tee time has been moved from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.
*Effective Friday July 3, 2020, food and beverage services will be available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. *Patios will also open, with reduced capacity and appropriate physical distancing measures
*Effective Sunday July 5, 2020 the tee sheet will open at 9 p.m. daily instead of 5 a.m. This continues to be for seven days in advance

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989.