• Alistair Tait

Just when you thought it was safe to play golf again….


A line from the trailer to the sequel to Jaws keeps running through my head today: just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…. Or, in our case, just when you thought it was safe to go back to the golf course…..


It isn’t.


At least here in England. Too bad I don’t live in Scotland, an option that’s very much at the forefront of my mind right now.


I’m thankful I played golf yesterday. My first round of 2021. Who knows when my next one will be?

“Golf clubs, golf facilities – both indoor and outdoor – and driving ranges will be required to close during this full lockdown,” the England Golf statement reads. “As such, coaching will not be permitted.
“England Golf – as part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf along with other leading industry bodies – is extremely disappointed with the news, having made a strong case in recent months to keep golf open during the national lockdowns and in the regional tier system.
"It is with great regret that we share this news with you, but please be assured that we will continue to make the case for golf to reopen whenever possible.”

Welsh golfers stopped playing on December 19th, while courses in Northern Ireland have been shut since Boxing Day. Scotland is the only country in the British Isles where golf is permitted, but only in one or two balls with a member of a different household. The caveat is the course has to be local.


Who on earth is going to police that?


The England Golf news was like the plot line from the Myth of Sisyphus. Golf clubs/courses are no different from other businesses this pandemic has affected. You have to feel for all those who’ve gone to great lengths to make facilities as safe as possible only to be told to close down, reopen, close down, reopen and close down again.


How many people have lost their job in the golf business because of this pandemic?


I had another two games booked for this week. I’m sure I’m not alone at being as frustrated as hell at not being able to play, especially just days after paying my annual subscription fee.


I hear the arguments of those who say there is little difference between going for a three or four mile walk with someone from another household and playing 18 holes with the same person. I’d agree if the two golfers were walking to and from a golf course local to them. I disagree when it involves driving to and from a club, since that brings more variables into the equation that could spread the virus, such as traffic accidents, stopping for petrol, etc.


There’s a parallel with the two Oban climbers who decided to go walking in Glencoe recently. One suffered an accident and the mountain rescue had to be called out. Both men were fined not for exercising on the hills but for breaching the rules that say they have to remain local. Imagine a golfer who suffers a heart attack on the 8th tee, or who causes a massive traffic accident and paramedics have to be called out?


I live 21 miles from Woburn Golf Club. Therefore, it can’t be considered local enough to warrant me playing even if the courses were open. Perhaps if I was 2.1 miles and I could walk to the golf course.


There’s a bigger factor though when it comes to the debate on whether golf courses should remain open and it’s this: if we’re allowed to play then gyms, bowling clubs, tennis clubs, indoor climbing centres, etc., would argue they should be allowed to remain open too.


I feel for those for whom golf is their only form of exercise, their only chance to socialise. I’m lucky inasmuch as I have my wife and daughters around me and live in the countryside with a wide array of walks to choose from. So many are not so lucky.


Just when we thought it was safe to return to the golf course….


#JustSaying: “I have loved playing the game and practising it. Whether my schedule for the following day called for a tournament round or merely a trip to the practice tee, the prospect that there was going to be golf in it made me feel privileged and extremely happy. I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up so I could get out on the course again.” Ben Hogan

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