England Golf chief executive officer Jeremy Tomlinson has written an open letter to the Prime Minister to press the case for golf return at the earliest possible opportunity.
The missive to Boris Johnson comes following a recent report that suggests golf courses could reopen in England before the end of March.
The aim of the letter from Tomlinson is to reinforce the scientific view that golf can not only be played safely during the first phase of recovery but also help the country bounce back physically and mentally from lockdown.
“Now, as you consider easing restrictions, I truly believe our great game of golf is exceptionally well placed to play a positive role in this first phase of recovery and should be given that opportunity by government,” wrote Tomlinson in the letter.
“We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the NHS staff, army medics and volunteers who have rolled out the vaccination programme to such great effect – heroes one and all.
“But now we need to look ahead – to find a way to re-energise the nation through a programme of safe activity and exercise to lift the collective morale of the country.”
Golf courses in England have been closed since the most recent coronavirus mitigations measures came into effect on January 4. This is in spite of intense lobbying by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, which recently presented scientific evidence to support claims that playing golf can be done safely.
"For in excess of two million golfers in England, the mental and physical health benefits of playing our sport can be clearly documented," added Tomlinson. "This isn’t anecdotal, this is based on solid scientific data.
“England Golf has been clear from the start – golf is a sport played safely in the open air with social distancing part and parcel of every round."
Tomlinson joined England Golf as its new CEO in January of last year and has had a challenging first year in the role, as he has sought to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at every turn.
“With the introduction of our 'Play Safe, Stay Safe' protocols after the first lockdown, we made our sport even more secure," explained Tomlinson. "Our golfing community has struggled without access to the game they love. For many, the mental hardships have been tougher to endure than the physical ones.
“Importantly, we see no reason why golf can’t be one of the first sports to return, to help with the healing process for our country, and to ensure that the sun can once again shine on us all through the 2021 season.”