From the Irish golf club that ‘won’t reopen’ to the boom in golf in Singapore, a look at golf and COVID-19 around the world

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 2, 2020 12:51

The coronavirus pandemic has not just had a huge impact on the UK golf industry, but arguably every golf industry around the world – both for better and for worse.

In Ireland, so far, it’s the latter.

For example, Castleisland Members Golf Club has recommended to its members that the club is wound up, according to the Irish Examiner.

The club had suffered from falling membership numbers since the 2008 recession, but planned fundraising opportunities have been abandoned due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the club is now not likely to reopen once the current restrictions have been lifted.

The club’s steering committee has sent a letter to its members informing them that the club will be wound up this month unless a rescue plan can be formulated.

‘Recent years have been very challenging for golf clubs with the huge fall off in membership,’ the letter stated.

‘Our own club is no exception. We consider that our club is no longer a viable enterprise.

‘Following government advice, the golf course closed on March 24 due to COVID-19. We do not expect it to reopen.

‘Unfortunately, we have not enough members to run a golf club. Therefore, it is with huge sadness that we recommend to our members that Castleisland Members Golf Club should be wound up.’

The situation in Singapore is completely different. While the country has had, officially, four deaths due to COVID-19, many sporting facilities and activities have been restricted or stopped, but not golf. And as a result clubs are experiencing a boom.

Golf clubs told The Straits Times their bookings have increased, one by as much as 15 per cent in March compared to the previous month when the weather is traditionally warmer, while a check on the Marina Bay Golf Course (MBGC) – a public facility – shows limited slots,and for only nine holes, are available for several days.

Clubs in Singapore have introduced a variety of precautionary measures in light of the outbreak. These range from temperature screenings to more creative methods such as implementing a one golfer per buggy rule and installing plastic dividers in the carts. Some are also limiting the number of users in the changing rooms.

In New Jersey, USA, one golf club has been helping its local health care workers.

Spring Brook Country Club’s members have been collecting bottled water and other products to donate to emergency room workers at a busy nearby hospital.

“The membership here likes to give back to the town, and they saw a need here,” said David Bachman, the club’s general manager. “I think they stepped up to the plate.”

The club, which is shutdown and  running on a skeleton crew of maintenance staff and other workers, also sent a truckload of sandwiches to a respiratory unit.

Image by Tristan Jones

And in Australia, Golf Australia advised that all golf clubs should close.

However, some regional and state authorities have said they do not need to, meaning several clubs are open and several closed at the moment.

This led Golf Australia to issue this statement:

‘Many golf clubs around Australia have either re-opened, or are considering doing so, after recent state and territory-specific rulings or directives.

‘Golf Australia, while not wishing to act in a manner contrary to those specific rulings or directives, remains of the view that golf is a non-essential activity.

‘Ultimately we respect the right of the clubs to act in the way they see fit while complying with all social distancing requirements.

‘We apologise for any confusion that has caused, but we are sure you can understand these are unprecedented times in our country and, indeed, for our great game.

‘That so many people are passionate about the sport is a great sign of the game’s significance in our community and we are truly sympathetic to those who are desperate to once again walk the fairways, but we as the national governing body feel that in this time of crisis for so many in our community, it is best to be safe.

‘Our recommendation to remain closed therefore remains the same – Australia and our community come first.’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 2, 2020 12:51
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  1. Eduardo April 5, 10:45

    Unfortunately this lockdown of the population risks being one of the great policy errors of a generation. As professor Medley rightly says only herd immunity will solve this in the near term so we need to isolate and protect the vulnerable old and ill and get everyone else back to quasi normality or we will hurt ourselves much more than the virus ever will.

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  2. Tim K April 3, 17:24

    Such a shame but how on earth have they let membership twindle from 600 to 200 .. why have they all abandoned the club ?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Peter April 2, 16:33

    Crisis almost always bring great opportunities and even greater achievements ! Most of the time, we have to look harder to find them ! And…while many are fighting to survive, there will always be some that thrive ! We learned that successful formula, many years ago !! However, it requires very Bold ( not indifferent) Leadership, great amounts of positive character traits and Brutal Honesty !! All areas where so many fail !!!

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