‘Why is angling allowed but golf forbidden?’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 26, 2021 07:29

The golf industry is continuing to pressurise the government to end the enforced closure of clubs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

Recently the UK government gave angling the go-ahead to continue, saying it would be treated as a form of exercise.

Many in the industry are saying the same approach should be afforded to golf, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling for courses to reopen, with many saying it makes no sense that people are allowed to walk across golf courses during lockdowns – but not while playing golf.

Paul Callin, a member of Copt Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands, said angling and golf were “very similar”.

“It is important to stress none of the clubs are asking for their clubhouses to be open, it would be all changing in the car park, straight through the course on a one-way system and straight off it again,” he said.

“So from that point of view it makes it extremely safe.”

Copt Heath Golf Club. Image from Facebook

Llanymynech Golf Club in Shropshire’s secretary Sian Whiteoak said the game is beneficial to many people.

“I’ve got members who are elderly and sometimes it is the only thing they do away from home,” she said.

“One member who is over 70, is a widower, hasn’t had his family in his home since March. His one outlet is to drive up to the club for a round of golf with his brother – they don’t have to get within 2m.

“His only other outlet is to visit his wife’s grave, and I can imagine, at the moment, he is feeling pretty desperate.”

Maintaining social distancing would be fairly easy, Ms Whiteoak said, given the size of courses.

“Llanymynech covers 160 acres and we have around 450 members, so even if every single member was out on our course we would only have about four people per acre,” she said.

“The issue is staying local to exercise. I understand they don’t want hordes of people heading to the hills and beaches, but it is very different to drive 10 minutes for a round of golf.

“We can control the amount of people… you can’t just rock up and play golf.”

Diss Golf Club’s general manager Steven Peet sympathised with the government’s position.

“It is disappointing for a lot of people – ourselves included – because we want to be able to provide golf for our members,” he said.

Diss Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“But morally, golf is not a matter of life or death. When you see more than 1,000 people are dying every day and I look out the window and it’s zero degrees and raining, doing what we can to save lives feels like the right thing to do.

“We increased the safety and have lots of procedures in place; I agree that it’s safe to play.

“But by opening up we’d be encouraging people to travel when they shouldn’t be and if we open up, then other sports will also argue they should be open and it gets out of hand.

“When it’s safe to do so I’m sure golf will be one of the first sports to re-open and we’ll be champing at the bit to get back out there.”

The club has seen a total of 224 new members come on board in the last year, which more than helped to cushion the blow of losing around 120 at renewal at the height of the first lockdown in April.

Peet said: “It has grown hugely and 62 per cent of the new members were under the age of 40, which shows we are reaching out to a new demographic.

“We have not been able to accept many visitors recently, but when we have, there has also been a lot of uptake from them.

“These sort of numbers are unheard of and that’s been great, especially after losing so many at the last renewal.

“At that point we were struggling and you start to wonder a little bit if it’s going to survive.

“We obviously benefited from golf being one of the first sports back. People couldn’t play football, cricket and things like that for a long while.

“But everyone at the club has also been working very hard to raise our profile. We have had a major recruitment drive and it seems to be working well.

“Hopefully we keep those new members interested and continue to build.”

Meanwhile, in Scotland, golfers have been saying how grateful they are that their game has been allowed to continue, with a maximum of two players from up to two households.

Thurso Golf Club. Image from Facebook

Thurso Golf Club captain Alan Coghill said: “Thankfully, the latest lockdown has not impacted Thurso Golf Club significantly. We have had to close our locker rooms and our indoor practice facility as part of the new restrictions.

“Recognising the cessation of all golf in England, we were relieved that in Scotland we were allowed to continue to play, albeit in smaller groups. The numbers of our intrepid winter golfers have remained quite high when the weather allows, with the car park being quite full on competition days.

“As this pandemic continues and all the other restrictions remain in place it is even more important for people to get outside and undertake some exercise. This is where golf has the advantage – fresh air, exercise and good company while being able to maintain social distancing.”

Reay GC’s captain Andy Bain added: “Thankfully Scottish golf courses are to remain open in this lockdown, which has been much relief to our members.

“To get outside in the fresh air and play some golf is great for physical and mental health and something that can be done without compromising social distancing.”

The club’s Covid officer completed an online training module, with the relevant certificate and risk assessments on display in the clubhouse.

Andy added: “Tee times still need to be booked through our online booking system for track-and-trace purposes – there is no turn up and play.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 26, 2021 07:29
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5 Comments

  1. djm January 28, 11:17

    ‘Why is angling allowed but golf forbidden?’

    Easy.

    The representations made to Government by the Not-Fit-For-Purpose Golf Quango were muddled & ill-informed.

    They were however, able to order themselves some smashing new blazers…

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter T January 27, 18:16

    Frustrating I know but it’s not quite as simple as being compared to going for a walk. Consider those that have to prepare the course to the standard required and how they need to be kept safe too plus anybody else that would have to work to enable our enjoyment. That said, the golf industry seemed to get its house in order and create a safe playing environment very quickly and has an awful lot of positives to being able to play.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Meyer January 27, 12:28

    Let them open, a naturally socially distanced sport played in the open air generally by smaller groups.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Graham D January 27, 10:04

    Is worth commenting? They continually say no.

    Reply to this comment
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