Golf is ‘hopeful’ of a lockdown exemption, reports The Times

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2020 12:35

Golf and outdoor tennis in England are hopeful that they will be subjected to a reprieve and be allowed to continue, The Times newspaper has reported.

On October 31, the UK government announced that all golf courses in England must close from November 5 to December 2, under new coronavirus restrictions.

However, there is strong evidence that golf and outdoor tennis are safe sports to play during the pandemic, and both can benefit physical and mental health.

‘Golf and outdoor tennis are hopeful they may secure a reprieve from the new lockdown after strongly lobbying the government to argue that the sports can continue and remain within the new restrictions,’ reports the paper.

‘Under the new restrictions announced so far, people will be only allowed to exercise outdoors alone, with their household or with one other person. Although a government document on Saturday included golf clubs on the list of sports facilities that must close, the sport’s leaders have told officials that people should still be able to play within those restrictions.’

Jeremy Tomlinson

The following day, backed by a petition that achieved over 100,000 signatures within a few hours of launching, England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson said: “Alongside our colleagues in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf we will proactively continue dialogue with government challenging the current position hard, but with great reason, to allow golf courses to remain open for play (in some format) from Thursday.”

Scott Lloyd, the chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association, said the same applied to tennis.

He said: “The new rules state that exercise and recreation outdoors is allowed with your household or on your own with one person from another household. Our concern is that it is not yet clear from the guidance whether outdoor tennis will be allowed to continue.

“So The LTA are making the strongest case to the government that outdoor tennis courts should be allowed to remain open for singles play, one-to-one coaching as well as use by the same households. We know tennis activity for children is also hugely important and so we have argued for this to continue where possible.”

‘Junior club sport is also likely to be affected but children should be able to play sport in schools, as these will remain open. It is also unclear how university sport would be affected as these too will remain open,’ adds The Times.

‘Swim England is lobbying the government hard for indoor pools to be permitted to remain open but that looks certain to be knocked back.’

At the same time The Guardian has reported: ‘The government is considering a more flexible approach to outdoor sports banned as part of the new lockdown measures that will be introduced on Thursday. The Guardian understands that golf, tennis and swimming in particular are potentially in line for reprieves, with discussions ongoing at the highest levels about whether to allow sports to continue that can easily social distance.

‘A final decision is likely to be made in the next 24-36 hours.’

Several golf clubs have signed the petition to keep golf open in November.

Dartford Golf Club’s general manager Andy Hall said: “We can operate in a safe environment. We have a course of 80 acres and a maximum of probably 120 to 140 people on the course, so they more or less have half an acre each.

“We haven’t had any Covid cases, our members are respectful of keeping their distance and we would like to stay open if we can.

“Yes, the bars have to shut, which is fair enough. We have members of all ages, up to 90, coming up the club and they don’t feel scared in any way and they are keeping socially distant. It is a shame for them. Sitting in front of the TV is not good for anyone’s health.”

Debbie Huckstepp, officer manager at Ashford Golf Club, added: “It is one of the sports that really leads to social distancing and as a club I do feel frustrated and I can’t see why we can’t continue, even if they instruct us to go back down to two people playing together, from maybe two different households.

“We were just getting back on our feet, back to some sort of normality, it is going to have a real impact, as it will have for many businesses, with the loss of income over the next few months.”

Sheerness Golf Club’s secretary Alex Tindall said: “The wording from the prime minister was that you could exercise unlimited and people were encouraged to do it, including with one other person from outside the household. My immediate take was that we would be going back to two-ball golf, which we successfully did back in May when we reopened. It worked really well and I don’t see why it can’t this time.

“To find out that golf courses and driving ranges were among the sporting venues to be closed was a bit of a disappointment, to say the least, not for selfish reasons because I am involved in the sport, but the right reason. I think golf can continue, it has been proven it is very good for you, good for the mind, the soul, as well as your heart, in terms of mental wellbeing, what the fresh air exercise brings.

“It is a sport you can play safely and socially distanced and it makes me wonder why the decision was taken. I know lots of our members have signed it the petition.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2020 12:35
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  1. ErnieLong November 9, 20:16

    Now theres a vaccine England Golf should be pushing to let us play golf again asap not having to wait until the 2nd of December !

    Reply to this comment
  2. Roger Brown November 3, 12:49

    It would be the common sense thing to do

    Reply to this comment
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