‘Open up our golf clubs now’, says Suffolk PGA professional

18 November, 2020 - 11:52
Golfers socially distancing on the fairway. Photo: PA

Golfers socially distancing on the fairway. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Golf clubs should be taken out of lockdown measures and courses opened up immediately.

Stuart Robertson, director of golf at Ufford Park Golf ClubStuart Robertson, director of golf at Ufford Park Golf Club

That’s the view of director of golf at Ufford Park, Stuart Robertson who, like many involved in the sport, is finding it hard to understand why golf has been banned during this second lockdown wave.

More than 250,000 people have already signed a petition to exempt golf from any future lockdowns. Parliament will debate the petition next week.

However, Robertson admits that while that is all well and good, the Government’s guidance through the current lockdown plays directly into why you should be playing golf!

“The Government encourage people to exercise, with one other person, tell you to make sure there is plenty of space around you. They are basically describing golf,” he said.

“They have gone to all the effort of describing what golf is, then said you can’t play it!

“There is no reason golf clubs should be closed.

Ufford Park, where the golf course is currently closed. Photo: ARCHANTUfford Park, where the golf course is currently closed. Photo: ARCHANT

“We should open up our golf clubs now, although we appreciate the bar and clubhouses wouldn’t open.”

At the start of the second lockdown there was confusion over the status of golf and tennis when The Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, suggested people may be able to play on both sports - before admitting, “I got this wrong”, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating, “once you unpick at one thing alas the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised. Golf can re-start in December.”

It has also been suggested the Government can’t be seen to be favouring what are perceived as ‘elitist’ sports like golf. Something Robertson acknowledges.

“There will always be an element of that, like polo, those types of sport, rather than football, rugby or whatever,” he said.

“But that’s not a good enough reason to stop golf. It is good exercise, it’s good for mental health, all ages can play it.

“Anyone who plays golf knows you don’t have to get close to your playing partner, maybe on the tee, but even then you can be distanced. So, what we are saying is, two people can go for a walk on a public golf course, even take their golf trollies if they want, but they can’t hit a ball!”

GOVE gets it wrong!

Golf clubs, like many sports have been hit by the lockdowns, although Robertson says golf has seen some positive signs.

“It has been a difficult year for golf clubs,” he said. “The first lockdown cost us a lot of money, but we made up for much of it in the summer.

“The one positive is we have noticed is the amount of people taking up the game. We have had sportsmen and women from many other sports come to our driving range, or play a round of golf. The interesting test for golf clubs will be when other sports start up again, will these same people continue to play? We hope so.”

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