‘Golf could have provided a lockdown tonic’ 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 12, 2020 10:16

Golf resort operators have been detailing their disappointment that the 28 day lockdown in England has resulted in the closing of their courses, as well as their bars, restaurants, hotels and spas.

In a feature in The Telegraph, Craig Ferris, the golf manager at Luton Hoo Hotel,Golf and Spa in Bedfordshire, said: “During the first lockdown the course was able to open seven weeks before the hotel, based on government directive.

“Ahead of re-opening the course, Covid-secure protocols were put in place which have become commonplace over the last five months.

“The wonderful open space of our course (over 1,000 acres) coupled with the autumn sunshine forecast would have provided a real tonic to people looking to enjoy a round of golf in a Covid-secure, socially-distanced manner.”

The newspaper added: ‘This group has been hit twice by government restrictions, with both overnight stays banned and sports facilities ordered to close. Unable to accept either paying guests or pay-for-the-day golfers, two vital revenue streams have been cut off in one fell swoop.

‘Hotels which rely on fine dining or spa days for income must now rely on loans and furlough support in the hope that these will be enough to seem them through.

‘But for golf resort operators, the crux of the matter lies in the unexplained decision to shut down the fairways.’

The average golf course covers a 60-hectare space, which on average would see only 96 people on it at any one time, which, it is argued, makes it the perfect setting for people of all ages to get their daily exercise in a safe environment.

James Macbeth Stewart

The vast majority of English golf clubs have also offered online booking services featuring pre-scheduled arrival times to eradicate contact with other people, and have changed their rules to ensure players stay socially distanced.

In addition, during the last round of restrictions, golf courses were allowed to reopen in May, almost two full months before hospitality businesses were given the green light to return to business.

James Macbeth Stewart, resort director at The Belfry, recent winner at the World Golf Awards and cover of the November 2020 issue of The Golf Business, told the paper: “We are very disappointed that golf is unable to go ahead during lockdown. Golf was one of the first sports to be allowed to return after the first lockdown, paving the way for other sports to return as restrictions continued to relax over the summer.

“It is played outdoors, with physical distancing easily possible, and offers many health and mental wellbeing benefits. It also obviously helps to maintain exercise levels, which the public are being actively encouraged to keep doing throughout this lockdown.”

In recent days both the former sports minister Tracey Crouch has called on the government to reconsider its ban on golf, saying the current restrictions do not make sense, and former cricketer Darren Gough has said the decision to close golf courses during the second coronavirus lockdown is ‘absolutely ridiculous’.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 12, 2020 10:16
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  1. Mackay November 16, 16:51

    Madness to close golf courses, golf isn’t everyone’s idea of ‘exercise’ but 3-4 hours of walking whilst playing golf is great for mental health. Fresh air, exercise, interacting with others ( social distanced ) could be a great outlet for people doing it tough during COVID-19.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Baker November 15, 21:22

    Totally agree

    It’s played outdoors with physical distancing easily possible and more importantly offers many health and mental wellbeing benefits which is the most important part.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Gurr November 14, 18:27

    The problem is the government believe the lies they have been told! Which goes against all logic!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Fish November 12, 12:30

    It is a ridiculous decision by the Govt. I think they must feel that by allowing golf or tennis then lots of other more COvid Risky sports would expect to happen. In many instances the risks are minimal and the majority of participation sports should have continued. It is often the one thing keeping people sane. I’m baffled how Fishing with a pal is allowed but a two ball on the golf course isn’t ?? I get the clubhouse closure piece but a game of two ball golf should be allowed to continue

    Reply to this comment
  5. DR November 12, 10:18

    Golf was my refuge – my fresh air. I can feel myself sinking without it

    Reply to this comment
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