COVID-19 has caused yet another event to toss in the towel, adding the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open (LPCO) to a long list of casualties since the pandemic began.
Tournament organizing committee chair Doug McLaughlin said the cancellation was a joint decision between his group and the Mackenzie Tour of PGA Tour Canada. McLaughlin does not believe the loss of the event reflects poorly on Lethbridge.
“I think that everybody in the world understands the effects of COVID-19 and they’ve seen it all around the world, so we’re not the only event to go through this,” he said.
Scheduling the tournament in 2021 was one of the major obstacles that could not be overcome enroute to the decision to cancel.
The Mackenzie Tour event teed off in Lethbridge in 2018 and 2019, for the first two tournaments in a three-year agreement between Paradise Canyon and PGA Tour Canada.
When the third tournament in 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19, the hope was that it could be played in 2021, but now that has been written off.
Last year city council voted to defer the $250,000 in committed funding for the event from 2020 to 2021.
Mackenzie Tour executive director Scott Pritchard said the city will determine what happens with that money now.
“Collectively the decision was made to not have the event this year, and to also essentially give the money back to the city so it can be used for whatever COVID-19 relief or however the city designates it,” he said.
Pritchard said the Mackenzie Tour has no imminent plans to return to Lethbridge, but the PGA Tour Canada is also not shutting the door.
“You know we would love to be back in Lethbridge at some point in the future,” Pritchard said. “That remains to be seen when that will be, but certainly our experience in Lethbridge has been a positive one.”
McLaughlin said the next time a tournament like the LPCO is organized in Lethbridge it will require a ton of volunteers and sponsorship dollars.
“You know it’s going to take a lot of work for somebody to put together a local organizing committee and go out and find some sponsorship money to make this work,” he said. “These types of events don’t run on a five dollar budget.”
The Mackenzie Tour will hit the greens for eight tournaments across Canada this year.