England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson has called upon the Government to rethink its decision to close golf courses as part of tighter COVID-19 preventative measures.
In a live televised address on Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown would take effect immediately amid a backdrop of spiralling coronavirus cases.
Consequently, schools across England have closed and people are required to work from home where possible, only leaving their homes for essential purposes.
Outdoor exercise is permitted but outdoor sports venues – including golf courses – have been made to shut.
It is the third time in under a year that the country’s courses have been made to close amid the fight with COVID-19, much to the chagrin of Tomlinson.
“The public health crisis is uppermost in all our minds right now and I would ask government to consider golf to be seen as part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem itself,” he said.
“I would very much class golf alongside other pursuits such as walking, running and cycling which are already part of the country’s daily exercise routine.
“It’s often said ‘golf is a good walk spoiled’ – of course, I don’t agree with the sentiment of the phrase, but when you boil it down golf really is a sporting version of a walk in the countryside.
“It’s in the open air, you naturally socially distance, you don’t touch anybody else’s equipment, you get a mental and physical boost from taking part. It’s enjoyable and relaxing.”
A petition calling for the re-opening of courses has already acquired more than 85,000 of the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a parliamentary debate.
As far as Tomlinson is concerned, golf has demonstrated both that it can be played safely and be a force for good.
“If golf courses were open for limited play in line with government regulations on outdoor meetings, then it would also help ease the strain being placed on other open spaces and public parks which are currently able to operate in an unregulated fashion,” he added.
“If you re-opened golf courses to allow the community of two million golfers in England to have that as a safe option for exercise, then I think that could be a huge positive in the fight against the physical and mental health issues posed by lockdown.
“We hope to be able to convince the government of that and at the very least to bring golf back sooner, rather than later.”