‘Why can you go for a walk but not play golf?’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 18, 2021 07:01

Golf club managers whose venues have closed due to coronavirus restrictions are continuing to state how disappointed and frustrated they are by the decision.

Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club general manager Andy Dennis said the facility is a ‘Covid-safe’ environment for members.

“It’s frustrating when you as an individual can meet another person from outside your household for a walk, but you can’t play the game of golf in that situation,” he told Echosport.

“We’ve also, as a sport, individuals and a club, got to be aware that cases are rising and people are losing their lives through this pandemic.

“We do have to be seen to be acting in the right way. If the government are saying that’s the best thing for it, then obviously Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club supports the decision.

“I feel at Bridport we’re pretty Covid-secure. There’s been no confirmed cases at the club, even through last year.”

But Dennis wants clarification on the ruling, adding: “The government have their reasons.

“Sadly, as a golf club and through our national governing body we haven’t actually had any full clarification why the government have decided to stop golf.

“That’s the frustrating part for our industry. We don’t share clubs, luggage. Players play at 10-minute intervals and don’t see anyone else.

“It’s all booked online, there’s no reason to have any interaction with any members of staff.

“It can be done as two people together, the full Track and Trace system – it’s pretty much watertight.”

Weymouth Golf Club president Colin Huckle shared his belief that golfers could “play safely”.

He said: “Members are frustrated that they can go for a walk but cannot play golf – which, to be honest, is a walk in the fresh air.

Weymouth Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“We appreciate the clubhouse has to be closed down but with our booking system, members can play safely in pairs once they arrive at the course.

“And they can ensure social distancing is observed.

“We have a Covid-secure site and since the first lockdown we have stringent safety measures in place from previous lockdown experience.”

Weymouth club captain David Picton added: “It is paramount that this deadly Covid-19 virus is brought under control.

“If it means that golf courses are closed and we can’t play golf, then we have to accept. These are unprecedented times. Times that frustrate us all.

“It’s not the playing of the game where the problem lies, as you can safely social distance on the course.

“It’s before and after the game that is the danger, where players seem to gather in groups with no social distancing. We need to stay safe and virus free. We need to beat this.”

Resident professional at Came Down, Nick Rodgers, said rules before the shutdown were strictly enforced.

“It’s disappointing. You can regurgitate the usual lines about social distance,” he said.

“As a club, we’ve got all the Covid precautions in place. We consider it a very safe environment for members to play.

“Before lockdown we didn’t have any guests or visitors – it was limited to members.

“There were strict rules on the time they could arrive. The clubhouse was closed apart from toilet access.

“People would come dressed in their golf clothes, change in the car park and play. Unfortunately, it’s been stopped now.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. I would hope when there is a change on the horizon that golf, like last time, will be one of the first things to return.

“For a lot of our members it’s their predominant form of exercise. Also, in terms of mental health there’s a lot of people that miss that side of it.”

While admitting his regret over the lockdown, fellow pro Michael Watson at Wessex Golf Centre insists the measure is warranted.

“It’s probably sensible for a point,” he said. “While it’s so bad we have to be careful and safety is paramount.

“It’s quite a safe sport out and about. For me personally there’s no competition and I can’t teach – all things have come to a grinding halt.

“It’s very difficult to try and get through the winter. You’re obviously trying to prepare yourself because when you do compete you’re unable to get game ready.

“It just takes longer, whenever we start back up, to get back to the (professional) level.

“With the new strain, while the numbers are so bad, I’m quite happy for them to keep everyone safe and sound.

“Once things start to improve, I would expect golf to come back fairly quickly.

“Hopefully the schedule won’t be too decimated like last summer and I’ll be able to get back out competing, which I have done for so many years – it’s part of my DNA.”

Meanwhile, Bridport and Charminster have reported a surge in players – as Charminster committee member Adrian Short explains.

Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“A lot of people play who are not club members,” he said.

“After the first lockdown was eased, the impression was that the club did extremely well because there were a lot more playing than normally did.

“Golf has benefitted quite a bit post-lockdown because people saw that as an open-air activity and possibly people who had played before might’ve returned to the game.

“Charminster being a small club you could nearly always go up there and play, whereas Weymouth and Came Down, before lockdown, you had to book tees.

“If restrictions are eased again, there will be quite a flood of people wanting to get out.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 18, 2021 07:01
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10 Comments

  1. Matt Hancockup January 23, 09:14

    We have got round the golf ban at my club by using clubs with square grooves. These are not officially classified as golf clubs and so technically we are not playing golf.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Barran January 22, 12:01

    Yes golf is one of the most socially distant sports and I am missing it the same as every one else.

    I should imagine most green keepers are furloughed or part furloughed, so with a closed club house and the fact that members would take all the tee times, how could a club generate enough to justify bringing back the greens team full time, which we know this time of year would be essential?

    For a club to police the course for before and after the rounds, again, staff would be required.

    Under the current restrictions of essential travel only those members who live a little too far away would be penalised….. this was apparent with our local courses during the tiered status as some members could play but others were restricted and not able too.

    Whilst I make these points I still stand by that golf is the most socially distant sport and even in our indoor centre our players don’t need to be close together and we had so many measures in place it was ridiculous but it is a case of having to suck this one up. Being shut from November during our peak season has been sickening but without sounding cliche we are not mot that far from coming back to those lush fairways and beautiful greens!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Febonio January 20, 13:06

    I did the math.
    At 10 min intervals you can put max 24 players on a course per hour.
    With a 4 hour pace you will have max 96 players on the entire course at any given time.
    An 18 hole course avg about 180-200 acres?
    That’s 96 people spread out over 200 acres.
    Only 2 issues are Clubhouse area before tee off and within the 4some.
    Control the Clubhouse area, be safe within your group and playing golf can’t get much safer!

    Reply to this comment
  4. WIan January 18, 22:53

    Because if you add up all of the participation in “ safe “ outside sports in runs into millions. The point of the lockdown is to stay home. People can not be trusted to leave the house and only travel to their “ safe “ outside sport. If you need a walk , walk around the block a few times. It’s nothing to do with what’s safe or not , lockdown means stay home. Very few exceptions

    Reply to this comment
  5. Professor Chris Not Very Witty January 18, 13:46

    I am a golfer first and foremost but also a professor of immunology and virology.

    The reason members can walk round their course but not play golf is that the latest strain of Covid is 70% more likely to be spread by golf balls, especially Titleist, Srixon and Callaway brands, but also to a lesser extent by Maxfli, Top-flite and even by a Penfold Ace. So until all members and their equipment have received the vaccine, nobody can play golf.

    Reply to this comment
    • Golfinghomer January 19, 07:05

      I am refusing the vaccine until the government stop banning golf. I am on the clinically vulnerable list. There is absolutely no good reason for stopping golf. In fact i walked the course this Sunday with my dogs and it was busier than if it were open for golf. I felt vulnerable because there was no order. It seems like the Government are trying to muscle golf courses out of business since over 250000sq hectares in England could be used for housing or re wilded.

      Reply to this comment
  6. HarryK January 18, 10:22

    Because your leaders are stupid and do not know what they are doing. I have played close to 50-75 rounds of golf since the pandemic started and know of no cases of transmission from the act of playing golf.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Bond January 18, 10:11

    A 2 ball is the same as the UK policy for 2 people to meet in a park….the irony is parks are full & courses are empty!?

    Golf courses should be open with the club house closed.

    Reply to this comment
  8. David O January 18, 09:50

    It’s not so much about playing golf, it’s more to do with travelling to and from the course. We must stay in our local area. Members would not be happy if only those who lived within say a mile or two could play when others could not. If we had to choose which two months to sacrifice, I’m sure we would all go for January & February. Hopefully we will all be back playing in March and will have a great year’s golf.

    Reply to this comment
    • TheLilliputian January 19, 02:14

      While I play far less golf than I used to and in all honesty don’t enjoy the game as I should after 40 plus years in private clubs, not having played at my club since 2017, it seems needlessly excessive to ban two ball golf. Many traditional clubs only permit two ball games (foursomes and singles) and neither format would place people so closely together as to pose a risk greater than queuing at the supermarket. I have yet to read of pandemic break out at any club (it may be different at Trump World where they mix and play loose and fast), but in all seriousness the courses should be opened, the clubhouses closed and at least provide recreation to members in return for their financial pledge to make their club survive.

      Reply to this comment
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