Roganstown & Swords decline GUI/ILGU recommendation. Both to stay open
Roganstown Golf Club

Roganstown Golf Club

Roganstown and Swords Golf Courses will remain open despite clear directives from the GUI and ILGU that golf facilities on the island should close amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Tuesday, following announcements from the UK and Irish Governments in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the GUI and ILGU recommended that all golf clubs, practice facilities and courses across the island closed with immediate effect until April 19th.

However, as predicted, some people read that statement and focussed on one word – ‘recommend’.


In an interview with the Irish Times, the managing director at Roganstown, Ian McGuinness explained their stance:

“He [Leo Varadkar] specifically said things like ‘groups of four’, ‘outside exercise’, ‘[can] leave the house if you are going out for physical exercise’, ‘we have to preserve our humanity’, which means taking exercise and looking after your physical and mental wellbeing; that as long as you keep the groups to four [or less] and keep safe distances.

“He left the parks open and, to be honest, there will be less people on the golf course than there will be in the park.”

But to be honest, that’s not the point. Tuesday’s Government announcement was a clear effort to galvanise the Irish people against a common enemy – coronavirus. This pandemic is much bigger than golf and far more important than a casual hit will ever prove.

“If people are being responsible, it is the place to be, as far as I’m concerned,” said McGuinness, but therein lies the problem.

Regardless of the measures taken by individual clubs to promote social distancing and negate the potential spread of the pandemic, people defy rules by nature and there’ll be nobody present to ensure golfers maintain the appropriate distance at all times.

The decision to close golf courses across the country has been a difficult one for many to accept, us included, but it’s ultimately the correct course of action. We said it earlier but to repeat, as a golf community, we have to play our part for the wider community to prosper.

We saw how the four-day Cheltenham racing festival portrayed the sport of horse racing to the world a couple of weeks ago – out of touch, short-sighted and selfish. Since then, many of those racegoers have tested positive for the virus. Do we want golfers to add themselves to the list of contracted cases unnecessarily?

This is golf’s chance to prove itself the opposite. We should all be united in this. That was the message from the Government on Tuesday. They likened this pandemic to the call to arms of 1916 and yet in 2020, when all that’s being asked of us is that we stay home and only leave when necessary, there’s those refusing to accept the directives.

We try to be a good news website at Irish Golfer Magazine but there’s no sugar-coating the damage that this virus is having around the world. In Ireland, we’re only at the beginning of this journey. By all accounts, we haven’t even left the runway. So, if after seeing the work of our healthcare workers and listening to the impassioned pleas of patients and politicians alike, you believe that golf is a necessity in all this, then perhaps we’re in bigger trouble than we thought.


The full Statement from Roganstown and Swords is below:

Golf is a great sport for people generally to get out and about, exercise and enjoy fresh air. It is played in an outdoor setting where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.

At Roganstown and Swords we have taken every effort to ensure that any risks are minimised.
There is no need to touch anything on the course.
• All bunker rakes have been removed
• Flag sticks are at the side of the green and do not need to be touched
• Ball washers have been removed from the course
• Air guns for cleaning shoes are disconnected, so not in use.
• All golfers must book on line or by telephone and only 1 person is to enter the golf shop at any one time.
• Any payments should if possible be by telephone or on-line.
• There is hand sanitizer at the entrance to the golf shop and all guests should use this before entering the shop.
Practice area and putting greens
• There is hand sanitizer at the range and all guests are required to use it before and after using the keypad.
• Only 4 people should be on the putting green at any 1 time to ensure physical distancing requirements are upheld.

The GUI statement on 24th March was ONLY A RECOMMENDATION. However, the Taoiseach’s speech was very clear – the relevant points are shown below;

The Taoiseach provided a specific list of all areas to be closed and Golf courses were NOT included.

He said You should only go to the shops for essential supplies, out for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take “physical exercise”.

He also said that we are in this for long haul. This could go on for weeks or months and we need to maintain our humanity, we need to see our families and loved ones and look after our mental and physical health. And we can do it if we maintain a physical distance of 2 metres or more.

Golf courses are NOT crowded and no more than 4 people play in a group together and the Taoiseach said
• Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than four persons, unless all are from the same household.
• All crowded places, including public amenities, should be avoided.
• Any setting that should close has been specifically identified.

Parks are being left open and people need to practice physical distancing.

We are following rigidly the guidelines laid out by the Taoiseach in terms of physical distancing in line with the advice he has been receiving from the healthcare professionals.

Under the current advice there is NO NEED for golf courses to close. In fact, golf courses allow for a safe place for people to get outdoor exercise which is vital for their physical and mental well-being.

If the government, under advice from the healthcare professionals, decide to take more stringent action and move to an all out lock-down where golf is also included, then we will abide by their decision and close immediately.

With all of the actions we have taken we believe that Roganstown and Swords golf courses are safe for staff and guests alike, and for the moment we will be staying open.


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23 responses to “Roganstown & Swords decline GUI/ILGU recommendation. Both to stay open”

  1. Dominic Smyth avatar
    Dominic Smyth

    Fair play to Roganstown and swords golf club for staying open there’s a big difference between club members moving around 100 acres in groups of four which can easily social distance and Cheltenham and any one that compares the two must already be a bit brain dead.

  2. Richie Wheeler avatar
    Richie Wheeler

    Shocking absolutely shocking, the narrow mindedness of a few can do so much harm. Please lead by example!!

  3. Brian Donnelly avatar
    Brian Donnelly

    Golf Societies should threaten them with cancelling their bookings for later in the year. Plenty of courses will be looking for business.

  4. Martin avatar

    I cannot agree with thisattitude .
    In the greater principle of national interest it flies in the face of populace wellbeing. It proclaims an unfortunate ,mercenary and selserving impression.
    We as golfers should be showing our true empathy and compassionand leading by example.
    Finally the very age profile of golfers currently should dictate extreme care.

  5. vincent avatar

    And we blame the kids for not taking responsibility but a Golf course ignores recommendation from the experts Some example

  6. Gerald O Donoghue avatar
    Gerald O Donoghue

    You will always get one greedy management in what otherwise is a wonderful sport.
    I’m sure every course on this Island could have adopted the same shelfish attitude in construing ‘the recommendation’ of the GUI & ILGU.
    Thankfully, our course of 27 holes decided to heed the advice of both unions and close.
    This attitude should be remembered in awarding any future tournaments to this outfit.

  7. Bridie avatar

    Agree they should be kept open

  8. Tom avatar

    Well done to Roganstown & Swords, they just ruined any chance golf club members had of being able to play golf for the next few weeks. Hope they are happy!!!

  9. robert hanley avatar
    robert hanley

    These golf clubs are perfectly right. We are being robbed unnecessarily of the exercise and we are never in breach of good social distance regulations. We should get a refund of our membership and golf clubs should seek financial recoupment from government in due course.

  10. Tony Barnes avatar
    Tony Barnes

    If the GUI have recommended all Golf courses to close UFN they should do so, to do anything other than comply is irresponsible and selfish
    Tony Barnes Howth GC member

  11. J Hegarty avatar
    J Hegarty

    I am taking strong personal measures against COVID19 and I am of the opinion, where golf courses have put measures in place like Roganstown and Swords, and restrict play to members only, that golf courses should remain open.
    I played golf in my club on Tuesday before the closure and found that everyone was accepting and respecting the new “rules”. I felt very safe.
    I am a fan of the but the comparison with Cheltenham in this article is quite ridiculous for several obvious reasons, a bit of sensationalist journalism I think.

  12. Dermot avatar

    It was a recommendation and not a directive from GUI/ILGU. Clubs had taken steps to apply social distancing protocol which were prudent and in keeping with HSE guidelines. It appears to be a knee jerk reaction from GUI which will impact members who wish to play causal golf as a means to promote well-being in this stressful time. Unless the government imposes a lock down or specific directives, then Clubs who have employed social distancing measures such as Roganstown should continue to operate for casual golf.

    Well done Roganstown – the GUI should review and withdraw their recommendation until they have a HSE/government directive. Golfers are responsible people, please credit us with some sense!

  13. David Willis avatar
    David Willis

    I have to agree with these clubs.
    Golf is played in the open and can be played as a 2 ball with self distancing on tee and greens. I do a agree that this covid 19 is a very serious problem for everyone on the planet,but people have to get out to relieve their frustration of being locked up all day. Please look at this as an option for all golfer?

    Regards David

  14. Tom Graham avatar
    Tom Graham

    Absolutely disgraceful decision based on greed and nothing to do with exercise etc. That they are the only club to behave this way says it all and all other golfers should boycott them once this is all over.

  15. John avatar

    GUI were premature with decision to close. Could have stayed open until 19th April at least. Saying that everybody needs to stay at home was an inaccurate portrayal of the government advice. Saying they subsequently checked with the government who confirmed the decision misses the point. GUI should have made the case for it’s membership up front along the lines with what the GM in Roganstown is stating ie golf is as safe as going for a walk in the park. As parks are not closed golf courses should not be closed. St Anne’s Park is busier than any of the courses were in Clontarf before they had to close. We should not have been concerned with public opinion but made the case that we would close once the decision made to close public parks.

  16. Tony Hartin avatar
    Tony Hartin

    I think you are incorrect in your decision to stay open bearing in mind the work the government, HSC, front line medical staff and the general public are putting in here in Ireland to try and stop the spread of this horrific Corona virus. Surely you must be aware of the dreadful fallout from this virus in Italy, Spain and now GB right on our door step. I am a keen golfer myself but I stopped playing in late February when I first recognised how I might be putting my health at risk.
    I can only counsel you that your decision is reckless showing no regard for the welfare of yourselves, your staff or the general public.

  17. Michael Farrell avatar
    Michael Farrell

    I guess that even after the harrowing stories from Italy, there are still none so blind as those who just WILL not see. Shame on Roganstown & Swords.

  18. Donal O’Gallagher avatar
    Donal O’Gallagher

    Picture the scene
    I leave my house and meet with 3 neighbours
    The FOUR of us (as allowed) walk up through the town delicately trying to avoid all the other walkers and their coughs. The footpaths are busy with people trying to EXERCISE as we have been recommended to do.
    We eventually weave our way to the gates of our golf club. They are locked and we the members are not allowed in to take part in our pastime (not a sporting event).
    For the past 2 weeks no visitors are allowed play. Flagsticks can’t be touched. Rakes have been removed. You can only play at the specific time booked on line (no gatherings). No cards put in. Clubhouse closed in full – everything. No hire trolley or buggy allowed. No air gun to clean equipment.
    But somehow the GUI seems to be more afraid of perceptions rather than reality and have run with the herd. Interestingly they succumbed within hours of the Taoiseach speaking – no consultation and no expert advice.
    Very flawed decision and not in touch with the needs of the hundreds of thousands of players.
    Finally, golf is a sporting pastime just like sea and lake swimming, surfing, hill walking, fishing, etc. Not a SPORTING EVENT
    Time for golfers to stand up. We need exercise and escape too.
    And I am a healthcare worker so my avoidance of this virus is more important to me than most

  19. Andy Maguire avatar
    Andy Maguire

    How many people are going to mark the ball on the green in the same spot ?.
    If one person has COVID 19 and passes it to another Man/Woman its one too many.
    We all love golf but we all should stay at home and hope to get back playing soon.

  20. Eddie avatar

    Both clubs should be closed immediately
    Shame on ye for not doing it
    Let’s fight this virus together and the sooner we all can start playing golf again.

  21. Jim avatar

    They should close and take this serious. Jim

  22. Tony avatar

    I have to say i agree with the approach taken by Roganstown & Swords. Comparing them to the Cheltenham racegoers is not appropriate – Cheltenham was packed, the UK were in denial of the issue and it was irresponsible of anyone that went there and came back to Ireland. Our Taoiseach was worse – I recall at the time he said they regarded people going to Cheltenham as no higher risk than if they were in Ireland – how ridiculous that statement sounds now. Fair dues to Roganstown & Swords – people need outdoor exercise and a well run golf course ensuring safe physical distancing is a perfect way. Lust like a walk in the park!!

  23. David Toohey avatar
    David Toohey

    The Roganstown and Swords stance is utterly shameful and indefensible. On a day when so many died of the virus including a healthcare worker it is extraordinary that the manager can put his interests ahead of the community’s safety and well being. Every other golf course had already put in place all of the measures he boasts of and yet they heeded the call for national and community solidarity by closing forthwith. I would hope that the members vote with their feet and stay at home, leaving the manager ostracised.

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