CALGARY -- While a few golf courses claim to be getting ready to accept players in southern Alberta, the province's top doc says those preparations are very premature given the current pandemic.

"My position is that golf courses are a non-essential service," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, during Thursday's update.

While golf courses are allowed to have workers on the grounds tending to the facility, Hinshaw says the public is not allowed to go there.

"Golf courses are not accessible to the public at this time because they are a non-essential service."

Hinshaw's statements come after news that a number of golf courses in the Lethbridge area, namely Land O' Lakes in Coaldale and Paradise Canyon, have either expressed their intent to be open before the end of the month or have been already open to golfers.

Officials with the courses say they've been operating under strict guidelines they were given by Alberta Health officials that include physical distancing between golfers and staff members and adjusted tee times to ensure groups aren't too close together.

The rules regarding golf courses aren't new, says Alberta Health Services (AHS). In fact, the facilities were included in Hinshaw's order about public recreation areas that was issued on March 17.

"Section 2 of CMOH Order 02-2020 specifies that all persons in Alberta are prohibited from attending 'public recreational facilities and private entertainment facilities, including but not limited to, gyms, swimming pools, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres, and bingo halls,'" a statement sent to CTV News reads.

AHS says Hinshaw meant that golf courses were included in that order and, as a result, attendance at golf courses in Alberta is prohibited.

"Workers are permitted to keep doing maintenance and preparation on courses, as long as public health measures that prevent the risk of transmission of COVID-19 are implemented and followed," AHS continues.

"We recognize the impact this will have on golf course operators' business and the many Albertans who love the sport. This decision is not taken lightly but is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and, ultimately, help save lives."

(With files from CTV Lethbridge's Aaron Mahoney)