“Stay closed!” – Warning issued to UK golf clubs

The chief executive of the Golf Club Managers’ Association has told golf clubs in the UK to resist the temptation to re-open as the country continues to battle with the coronavirus pandemic.

Golf clubs across the United Kingdom have been closed since the Prime Minister announced a series of measures, designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, on March 23. Those measures were put in place for an initial three-week period – a period which was extended for at least three more weeks on Thursday.

Despite this, there have been a growing number of calls for golf courses to re-open.

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Professor Samuel McConkey, the head of the Royal College of Surgeons’ department of international health and tropical medicine in Ireland, told the Irish Times this week that he sees no reason why golf cannot be played at this time, provided clubhouses are not used and golfers socially distance.

New advice issued to officers in England by the National Police Chiefs’ Council by the Crown Prosecution Service – which redefined what constitutes a “reasonable excuse to leave the place where you live” during the restrictions – has also been interpreted by some as an invitation for golf courses to re-open.

However, Bob Williams, the CEO of the GCMA, has rebuffed those suggestions, saying that clubs should remain closed and continue to operate in line with government guidance.

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“The GCMA has been working alongside the other professional golfing bodies PGA and BIGGA to prepare an agreed set of guidelines for all golf clubs to follow,” Williams told bunkered.co.uk. “These have included the ‘essential workers’ directive that has been accepted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for essential course maintenance to be continued.

“In conjunction with the R&A and the home unions, the clear message is that golf courses should remain closed until further government advice dictates differently.

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“The recent statements by the National Police Chiefs council have caused a number of divided opinions and enticed some operators to think about opening.

“In my view this is contravening the spirit of what the majority of the population is adhering to and flaunting the clear directives from our government."

WIlliams added that industry bodies are "jointly working on a number of policies to prepare for when golf re-opens and when it is safe to do so".

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