Former Ryder Cup winning Captain Paul McGinley has stressed the importance of golf’s return, not just to the sport in general but also to the wider industries reliant on golf’s main tours.
Writing in his Sky Sports column, McGinley accepts it will be almost impossible to nullify 100% of the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic but believes with the right preparation and measures in place pre-tournament, golf can point the way in terms of how sport can make a comeback through Covid-19.
“Some governments are starting to open up their economies,” said McGinley. “They sense the importance of balancing the fight against the virus with restarting the economy and lifting the spirits of their people. Sport is a huge contributor to both.
“The American government has offered all of the country’s major sporting organisations a supply of testing kits. They say that there are enough available for workers on the front line and that they are now going to use the surplus to kick-start important sectors of the economy and this includes sport. Apparently, numbers of these testing kits are becoming more available week after week. We take their word on that.
“The UK government is aiding all sports in their preparations to return, as long as this resumption is in line with their strict guidelines on safety and control of the virus,” adding, “Golf and its governing bodies have come a long way in the procuring of procedures to be able to comply with governmental guidelines dealing with the virus.”
The financial ramifications of this pandemic have been felt across the globe. Many businesses may never recover from the damage of an already disastrous 2020 and although the PGA Tour should be strong enough to survive the strain, many small companies depending on the Tour may suffer a different fate.
“There are also other benefits to golf’s return such as employment in the many cottage industries surrounding tournament golf, the travel and hospitality industries, not to mention the taxes paid within such industries and taxes paid by players – all of which are contributed back into the economy,” said McGinley.
“Resumption of professional tournament golf will also bring with it a big charity contribution in aid of the various health services throughout the world.
“Post COVID-19, the format of many sports will most likely change. Consolidation and merging of organisations in tennis, football and rugby are being talked of as likely scenarios, and golf may well follow. First things first, however, the show needs to stay on the road during these uncertain times in whatever form it can.”
The Dubliner accepts that golf’s return will ultimately be behind closed doors for now and the atmosphere associated with the sport will obviously suffer as a result. However, McGinley insists that no crowds is the lesser of two evils if the alternative is no golf and that people need to embrace change for the greater good, at least for the time being, to safeguard golf’s future through a turbulent time ahead.
“Competition in elite sport delivers value on so many levels,” McGinley added.
“In these times of crisis, it is the person who is sitting at home looking for entertainment through live competitive sport for whom we need to provide most value. We have a duty to them but let us remain mindful of the financial well-being of our sport, its clubs and organisations in what will be a very unpredictable and turbulent time in the coming years.”
You can read McGinley’s full column HERE