What New Lockdowns Mean For Your Golf
Most of us were keen to the see back of 2020, but a pandemic doesn't recognise the change of calendar, so it was inevitable that further restrictions would be established at the beginning of the New Year, many of them once again impacting the golf industry.
Golf courses are presently closed across England, Wales and the Island of Ireland, but they do remain open in Scotland, a situation that keen winter golfers north of the border will relish.
However, for the rest of the Golfshake Community, we'll simply have to make the best of it and look ahead to brighter days when hopefully we'll experience a similar surge of enthusiasm to what was showcased back in May.
We take a look at where things stand in each corner of the British Isles.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of a complete lockdown (reminiscent of that seen last March) has resulted in the instant closure of golf courses, facilities and driving ranges across England.
England Golf said: "As part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf along with other leading industry bodies – is extremely disappointed with the news, having made a strong case in recent months to keep golf open during the national lockdowns and in the regional tier system.
"It is with great regret that we share this news with you, but please be assured that we will continue to make the case for golf to reopen whenever possible."
When that opportunity will present itself remains uncertain, but the government has stated that the wider situation will be reviewed on 15 February.
For the latest, visit https://www.englandgolf.org/.
However, in Scotland, unlike the March lockdown, there haven't been restrictions placed on outdoor exercise, meaning that golf courses can remain open, but play will be restricted to two-balls and golfers are only permitted to travel within their own local authority and a maximum of five miles beyond its boundary.
Karin Sharp of Scottish Golf said: "Scottish Golf asks that all golf clubs and golfers adhere to the new guidance with the same spirit and integrity that has been shown throughout the last year to ensure we can all continue to benefit from playing golf through this new period of restrictions."
For the latest, visit https://scottishgolf.org/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/.
In Wales, as part of strict measures, golf courses have been closed since 20 December, but there is a possibility that may change in the near future.
Wales Golf has commented: "In reply to our recent open letter, the Sport’s Minister has intimated that restrictions affecting golf will be considered alongside other relevant activities in the first formal review of the level 4 restrictions on Friday 8th January."
For the latest, visit https://www.walesgolf.org/covid-19/.
Likewise, venues throughout Northern Ireland have been shut since Boxing Day, since their post-Christmas lockdown began in earnest.
First Minister Arlene Foster has said that the stay-at-home message would be in place "for the rest of January, probably into February."
Republic of Ireland
Finally, for those of you in the Republic of Ireland, the reinstatement of the Irish Government's Level 5 Restrictions have led to the closure of golf courses from midnight on 30 December.
Golf Ireland said: "We urge all of our affiliated clubs to continue to adhere to the public health restrictions and we will remain engaged with the government authorities of both jurisdictions to ensure the return of our sport across the island of Ireland as soon as possible."
For the latest, visit https://www.golfireland.ie/.
Ultimately, we hope that better days are ahead, and that everyone will have the opportunity to return to their beloved fairways in time for the spring, once the pandemic is finally under better control.
We wish the Golfshake Community a safe and healthy beginning to the year.
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