Irish golf club vows to IGNORE order to close

Irish Golf Flag

The owner of an Irish golf course has stated his intention to defy orders to close his club in line with tighter measures designed to combat COVID-19.

Responding to a tweet from the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) confirming that all courses on the Emerald Isle must close for the next six weeks, Ronan McGrath, the proprietor of Cregmore Park in Glaway, said that he would be keeping his club open for all members who live within a 5km radius.

Included within the new measures, outlined by the Irish Government on Monday, there is an exemption for people to exercise within a 5km radius of their homes, with penalties enforcable for movement outwith 5km for non-essential purposes. 

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With no clarity on whether or not golf was defined within the guidelines as 'exercise', many were left to wonder whether or not the sport would be obligated to follow the new measures.

This afternoon, following consultation with Sport Ireland, the GUI and Irish Ladies Golf Union confirmed that all golf courses in Ireland will be forced to close. 

However, it appears that McGrath, for one, is not prepared to do so. 

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Branding the decision "ridiculous", he tweeted: "We @cregmoregolf will not be closing to our members who live within a 5km radius. They are free to make use of the facilities that they have ALREADY paid for at the beginning of the year; the same members who kept us afloat during the recession. #MentalHealthMatters"

In a follow-up tweet, he wrote: "Parks are open nationwide for people to exercise and maintain their mental health. Our golf course is no different for our members that live within the 5km zone. There is no other facility close by for them to avail of during the next six weeks. We commit to looking after them."

Cregmore Park, which is owned by the McGrath family, opened for play in 2007 and has established a reputation as one of "the premier golfing tests in Galway and the West of Ireland".

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In a joint statement ordering the temporary closure of golf courses, the GUI and ILGU wrote: "Following intensive engagement over the past 48 hours, we have been informed this afternoon by Sport Ireland that, very regrettably golf clubs must close under the new Level 5 restrictions.

"Essential course maintenance is permitted to continue under Level 5. We have sought clarity on the issue as to whether ranges/practice facilities can remain open for exempted activities. We will update clubs on this as soon as possible."

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