Courses to CLOSE as England Golf admits defeat in lockdown battle

England Golf has admitted defeat in its battle to exempt golf from new COVID-19 mitigation measures, meaning that all golf facilities must close from tomorrow.

England Golf Chief Executive Jeremy Tomlinson confirmed the news that, despite intense lobbying to government, increased national lockdown measures will force the closure of golf clubs and driving ranges from tomorrow until December 2.

A letter has been sent to all affiliated clubs and facilities to inform them of the fact.

It states: "It is with a feeling of deep regret that we must now inform all affiliated golf clubs and driving ranges that they should prepare to close from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December 2020.

"Pending a vote today in the House of Commons, the UK government has confirmed these closures are required as part of increased national lockdown measures designed to suppress the spread of Covid-19, save lives and protect the NHS.

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"England Golf, as the governing body for the amateur game and alongside our colleagues in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, respectfully, but vigorously challenged government to argue the case for golf courses to remain open.

"As an open-air sport played by limited numbers in a vast outdoor setting which naturally lends itself to social distancing, we lobbied that golf should continue to be played in accordance with our government-approved ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ framework."

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The letter went on to say: "With the Prime Minister actively encouraging family households and up to two individuals from different households to exercise in the open air without limit, we strongly believe that golf courses should have remained open as an extension to recreation even if it was necessary to close clubhouses and professional shops.

"Participants would have been able to enjoy the obvious physical rewards of playing the game, but perhaps more importantly, the benefits to their mental health at a time of disruption to normal life."

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The letter added that the government had engaged in 'detailed conversation' with the England Golf and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf but, ultimately has decided not to amend its original guidance. As a result, all clubs and golfers are being asked to respect the legislation that is set to come into force overnight.

"England Golf staff remain available to support golfers, clubs and counties throughout this period of temporary closure," added the letter. "We will signpost to relevant information and government advice where we can and as quickly as possible with the help of our Club Support Officer network.

"We will also maintain an open line of communication with government in a bid to allow courses and facilities to re-open at the earliest opportunity."

The new national lockdown measures were unveiled by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday night in a televised address to the nation.

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