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  • Alistair Tait

#STAYATHOME – Don’t Play Golf

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

There are times when golf seems completely out of touch with the rest of the world. This is one of those times.

I can’t believe people still think it’s okay to play golf. If ever there was a time for our sport to act responsibly then this is it.

The UK Golf Federation is petitioning the government to keep golf courses open, it’s running the hashtag #KeepGolfOpen. I think the campaign is wrong and almost borders on irresponsible.

As if our government doesn’t have enough on its hands without having to deal with a petition.

I get the sentiment in the petition which states:

“Just short of 2 million people play golf each week, many are under 70 years old! The loss of their recreational activity, social discussions and time spent with friends and partners walking in fresh air will be lost and could have serious unnecessary long-term effects on the health, physical and mental wellbeing of these golfers”.

I disagree with the following statement:

“We believe golf is one of the safest places in our current environment as it requires no person to person contact. You have the ability to change in the car park, there is no reason to take the flag out these days and likely you can always remain two metres apart from your playing partners. We hope this petition will be the catalyst in helping members, golfers, golf club employees, managers, and all those in our industry share our message to the government and the country to #KeepGolfOpen and emerge stronger.

Courses in most European countries have shut down yet we think we can carry blithely on as if everything is close to normal. There are people on social media, some prominent in the game, advising people to get out and play. That’s not the message we should be sending at this time.

I’d agree with that message and the petition’s premise if everyone was going to go out and play on their own. With the best will in the world that won’t happen. There will still be four-balls going out and, although they will try to follow club guidance and practise social distancing, there could be times when playing companions get too close to one another. And who’s to guarantee everyone will abide by the guidelines not to touch the flagsticks, bunker rakes, ball washers, etc.

I called a friend in his 70s yesterday to see how we was doing. He’d just returned from his Saturday round and told me of seeing the group in front remove the flagstick on one occasion. Old habits die hard.

I advised my friend to stop playing since at his age he’s vulnerable to this disease. I hope he takes my advice.

It’s not just golfers who are potentially vulnerable. What about the staff called on to keep the course open so we can get a bit of fresh air? Will they be practising social distancing?

I love golf. I play it as much as possible. I miss it and it’s only been a week since I played my last round. However, if it’s another week, another month, even a year without playing then so be it. I get all the fresh air I need by taking my dog for a walk in the countryside on my own where I can more easily keep my distance from others.

I realise clubs are trying to act responsibly. I know they are in a difficult situation. I know they will suffer at this time, but we need to act responsibly and give the game up for now to take pressure off our NHS and emergency service workers. This is the time for golfers to act responsibly.

So please #STAYATHOME – Don’t Play Golf!


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