Golf leaders write to PM in bid to keep England's courses open

Golf Balls

Some of the most senior administrators in British golf have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to rethink plans to close England’s golf courses.

An England-wide lockdown, intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, will come into effect in England on Thursday, November 5, and will last until at least December 2.

During this time, non-essential shops and hospitality will be forced to close, with restrictions on travel also being enforced. All household mixing has been banned, except for childcare and other support.

Confusion, though, has shrouded the position of golf.

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Despite courses and driving ranges being listed on the government website amongst the facilities that will be required to close, England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson said in an open letter to the country's golfers on Sunday that the organisation has received no such directive.

The uncertainty was heightened by cabinet minister Michael Gove, who said yesterday that tennis courts and golf courses were likely to remain open, only to then retract those remarks this morning.

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With lockdown drawing ever closer, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has published a letter that it has addressed to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which the case is made for keeping courses open.

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The letter has been co-signed by Robert Maxfield, the chief executive of the PGA; John Clark, the CEO of equipment brand PING; Jeremy Tomlinson, the CEO of England Golf; Doug Poole, the CEO of the UK Golf Federation; and David Rickman, the Executive Director of the R&A, as well as several others.

It states: “During the lockdown implemented earlier this year, the game of golf was able to clearly demonstrate that it could be enjoyed in a COVID safe way, which is why it was one of the first sports to be able to return once restrictions were relaxed.

“This was a privilege that the sport took incredibly seriously and accordingly adopted the highest possible standards to keep the participants safe, which have remained strictly in place to date.

“The average golf course covers a 60-hectare space, which on average would see only 96 people on it at any one time, which makes it the perfect setting for people of all ages and abilities to get their daily exercise in an extremely safe environment.”

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The letter goes on to illustrate the mental health benefits of the sport and the provisions already in place to allow play to continue.

For the letter to succeed, the Prime Minister will need to perform a 180-degree pivot. Only yesterday, he dismissed the suggestion that some sports should be exempt from the lockdown measures, saying that it is “difficult to take out one part of the Jenga block without disturbing the whole package”.

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