Golf Must Not Resume Despite Contrary Calls
WITH most of the planet in lockdown because of coronavirus and its increasing death toll, golf largely remains open for business throughout many states in America, with reports of golfers ignoring the social distancing guidelines. Courses have reopened in Denmark as restrictions are beginning to be lifted, with several venues in Australia defying closure recommendations by Golf Australia.
Understandably, golfers are frustrated, especially as the main season should be underway, but we wholeheartedly support the continued lockdown in place, as clearly the present situation goes far beyond the disappointment of golf.
However, we recently published an article looking at the problems golf clubs may face if members decide to withhold their subscriptions, and it certainly got you talking, with many Golfshake subscribers believing that we are missing a trick at a time when people are desperate for a bit of fresh air and exercise.
DaveJ is one of many who believe that play should continue in two-balls. He wrote: “Two-ball social play only, putt with flag in, remove rakes, cover the ball washers, no handshakes...common sense. Unfortunately club houses/pro shops will probably have to remain closed, but no reason why the locker rooms can't be opened up to allow for golf to be played. Many people are out walking in pairs, maintaining the 2m social distancing. The only difference I can see is that golfers will have clubs on their backs!”
Another commentor agrees. "I believe the only way to save our golf clubs is for the government to open them back up to members only playing in two-balls and booking tee times,” he said.
MattB says that closing courses is a mistake. "I agree that golf clubs should be allowed to continue but without the clubhouse and pro shop facilities at present. This will allow people to exercise in the open air and this will also take people away from being tempted to go to their local shops or beauty spots, so potentially less people will be on the streets which is what the government want at this current worrying time. To be honest most people will be on their own golf course for 3-4 hours, and this will help maintain their physical and mental fitness at a very stressful time.
“Golf clubs need all the support they can get at present, this negative time should be used to turn this sport into a positive time and could encourage people on taking up a new sport. I wouldn't think the health risks would be any higher than taking your dog for a long walk in open countryside? I hope the government and England Golf reconsider this decision for the sake of all golf clubs."
A further commentor wrote: "I play the Glamorganshhire Golf Club and agree that we should still play only two-ball. Only available in 15 minute slots and on a previous booking arrangement. This may keep clubs going and give members a chance to get some well needed exercise. Fingers crossed."
And what about annual subscriptions? Should we carry on paying them?
This is DB’s take on the subject: "From a purely legal standpoint members are perfectly entitled to withhold payment of fees (or suspend payment if by direct debit) when the course is closed because of the virus. As the article correctly observes there will inevitably be stark choices to be made by individuals faced with financial issues in the weeks and months ahead. Many may be able to support their own clubs but I fear not all will be in that position and casualties may be inevitable. Those clubs that have been prudently managed over the years will be in a better position than others nearer the bread line, but it may well mean that some may go out of business as a result of the effects of the pandemic."
DougC is a former professional and believes that this is a time for golf clubs to be more proactive. "My suggestion now is for golf clubs to park their pride and get more and more new members and get kids into the club. So halve the joint fee and yearly fee and get kids playing as well. I know the cost of running a club but short sightedness and snobbery has ruined many golf clubs in the past. Let's get the member numbers up! Or the average club will die.”
Many clubs are responding positively. Kings Norton Golf Club took to Twitter with the following announcement for its members: “The board has decided that subscriptions should don’t be payable during the period of closure. Our 20-21 year will now begin on the day we are allowed to reopen. If we are allowed to reopen on July 1, the subscription year will run from then until June 30 next year.”
It is a bold and welcome move, but how many clubs can afford to follow suit? We will be keeping an eye on this. In the meantime, let us know what your club is doing.
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)