Should Golf Courses Close Or Time To Keep Golf Open
Golfshake writer Derek Clements reacts to the latest announcement from the UK government and the forthcoming lockdown which will see golf courses close across England. With a growing campaign to #KeepGolfOpen an online petition has already surpassed 100,000 votes required for debate in parliament. Should there be a U-turn to keep golf open or is golf's fate already sealed for the next 4 weeks?
Locking down golf again makes NO sense - and breaks the PM's own guidelines
JUST when we thought it could not get any worse, Boris Johnson confirms that the country will be going into lockdown once again from midnight on November 4 until December 2, with only essential retail establishments such as supermarkets remaining open. Bars, cafes and restaurants will once again have to close their doors. And it is looking like golf courses may have to follow suit - even though it is a decision that makes no logical sense.
With the nights drawing in and the temperature plunging, it is just about the last thing that any of us needed. There is some confusion as to exactly what the new lockdown rules mean for club golf, with the Government’s website saying that it is among the sports that will be closed down again. It makes no sense.
In my mind, this should be but pretty straightforward. The Prime Minister has ordered bars and restaurants to close, and that means clubhouses will obviously have to follow suit for everything other than takeaway services. Immediately following the annoucement an online petition was set-up, aimed at putting pressure on the Government to allow us to carry on playing the game we love and by lunchtime on Sunday, November 1, it had been signed by more 100,000 people. That’s the good news.
Sign the petition: 'Exempt golf courses from the list of venues required to close due to Covid-19'
The bad news is that they want the matter debated in Parliament, and that will take at least four weeks. In other words, politicians would be debating the issue after the lockdown has finished and, hopefully, golf clubs are open again. If they can survive what looks like being another needless kick in the teeth.
We are each able to mix with one other person from outside our own households. Sadly, that means that as from Thursday morning, you will not be able to play four ball golf until the latest restrictions are relaxed. Period. There is no way that is going to change. As things stand, it is beginning to look like you won’t be able to play any golf at all. However, this Government has made several U-turns in the recent past and they have surely got this decision wrong.
The PGA have announced they are working with the 'All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf' to fully understand the implications for golf clubs and their facilities and communicate definitive guidance once received from Government. England Golf have also issued a statement with an open letter to golfer's from the CEO Jeremy Tomlinson stating:
"... with the health of the nation very much at the heart of my thinking, I would like to make clear England Golf’s intention to respectfully challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses."
If we ARE allowed to mix with one other person from outside out own household, what difference does it make whether that is meeting up for a walk in the park or playing 18 holes of golf? In my mind it is quite clear - from Thursday, we should be allowed to carry on playing in two balls. And any other ruling will be a direct contradiction of the Prime Minister’s own rules.
He was the first to admit that another lockdown would almost certainly have an impact on people’s mental well-being, and he wants us to continue to exercise safely. Golf’s governing bodies are currently rushing around seeking clarification and bringing pressure to bear in an attempt to keep out ailing sector alive.
I am confident that there will be a change of heart. And the good news is that with the shorter daylight hours, it will lead to a return of faster play. And in our recent Golfshake surveys it has become abundantly clear that almost all of you want the game played as a quicker pace.
Following the spring lockdown, the importance of golf become apparent and a spotlight was shone on the benefits it can bring to the health and well-being of millions, highlighting the importance of keeping the game open. In late September we published an article looking at how important playing golf is to you and it was evident from our survey how important golf was in relation to physical activity, social interaction and mental well-being.
At a time when the sport is just getting back on its feet, with participation numbers through the roof, we must all hope that this can be resolved sensibly. As we all know, golf IS good for us, both for our mental and physical well-being. And those two things have never been more important.
So, to sure your support to #KeepGolfOpen make sure you sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/309851
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