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Golf is almost within our grasp. It’s so close we can taste it. There are golfers out there who are, quite literally, tingling with excitement. I know because I’m one of them (even though I can’t play until late July) and I am delighted to see that courses will be open for play from next week.

Sadly, not everyone will be able to play in this first phase of re-opening. Or the second, for that matter. I won’t bore you again with the details of the new protocols because they’ve been published elsewhere, numerous times, but I will address the obvious complaints and concerns that are doing the rounds… because they’re important.

Golf is one of the first sports to be allowed to resume in Ireland (ROI). While we all welcome that important step, it does come with responsibilities. Other sports will follow and as a sport where social distancing is a part of the game, we as golfers need to show that it can be done correctly and that golf is conducted in a safe and responsible manner. If we screw it up, then we screw it up for everyone. The government has made that clear.

Golf is already seen as an elitist sport so do we really want to give other sports and the public in general yet another excuse to point fingers at us? The national media will lap it up if someone gets stopped and fined for trying to drive to their course 30km away.

So we have responsibilities to get it right. And I agree with you that standing in supermarket queues is hardly safe compared to the wide open spaces of a golf course where you can combine exercise with mental relaxation, but you are missing the point. Two points, actually.

The first is the matter of ‘essential journeys’. Going to play golf is not an essential journey. Important, yes; essential, no. Buying food is most certainly essential so let’s stop comparing the two and resist from posting photos on social media of empty golf courses alongside mile-long queues of shoppers.

Point two is that we are all in this together. Cliché or not, it is true that we have to do the right thing by and for each other. Yes there are morons out there who feel the rules don’t apply to them but that is not an excuse for you then to break the rules yourself. We have been asked by our government to do certain things in the interests of keeping our nation’s people safe. As difficult and as boring as that might be, we all want to get back to a degree of normality as quickly as possible. Following the rules and obeying the law makes that far more likely.

There are three issues that are causing some degree of uncertainty ahead of next Monday’s return to play.

  1. The location of my golf course.
    You may travel to play at your club if you live within 5km. We all know that if you live 6km or 8km away then you’ll probably still be putting your name on the time sheet, despite what the regulations say. No one is likely to get too tetchy about it and golf clubs aren’t going to police the matter.I ran a poll on Twitter asking if people lived within 5km of their course. 55 per cent replied that they didn’t… and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that golf clubs in the country will have far higher percentage figures than that. If you want to take the risk of travelling 8km then that’s up to you. I urge you not to but no one listens to me.

If you live 20km away then your argument for going to play golf is probably: “what’s the difference between driving 5km or 20km?” I agree with you: the difference is negligible, presuming your car doesn’t break down and you don’t stop along the way. Still, that 5km law is there for a reason so why should the 5km limit apply to everyone but you?

  1. You drive 20km on an essential journey (to work, to buy groceries…) and your golf club is right next door to where you are going.
    Why shouldn’t you pop in for a game while you’re there? You’re within 5km after all. Sadly, that’s not the way it works. Your golf club has to be within 5km of where you live… not where you go to work. And yeah, I know that sucks because I find myself in this particular scenario, too. Again, it comes down to the protocol requirements (and law) and doing the right thing, no matter how desperate you are to play golf and no matter how entitled you feel you are to play golf at your course. I honestly believe that there are some media outlets just begging for a golfer to get caught breaking that 5km rule. Please don’t let it be you.
  2. Over 70s.
    For me, there’s a lack of clarity here. Actually that’s not quite true because after leaving the issue open for debate in their new protocols (Friday 8th), golf’s governing bodies have now clarified whether the over 70s can play golf from May 18th. They did this in a Q&A with Irish Golfer on Wednesday.

So, if you live within 5km of your club:

‘It is up to each individual to decide for themselves, based on their own circumstances, living arrangements and potential for contact with others at certain times, whether playing golf is compatible with the HSE’s advice on cocooning.’

It is no surprise therefore to hear that the over 70s are putting their names on time sheets across the country as I suspect there are few circumstances that can not be improved with a round of golf.

 

* RESPECT was a 1967 hit for Aretha Franklin.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Hello,
    Reading the Irish Times today and all the golf clubs with full time sheets, there seems to be an awful lot of club members lucky enough to live within the 5 km limit.

  2. Golf should not be allowed back until ALL golfers can go to golf clubs within the regulations……I think it incredible that we now have a bias/unfairness towards some golf club members and I can understand if someone is 8/10 km from their club being tempted to play ……it is ludicrous!!

  3. I am 75 & living within the 5km, so I am going to play. I agree that 5km is ridiculous, but I think authorities are just trying to limit the number of cars using the roads.
    It makes no sense if you are driving alone 5,10,15 or 20km to the course

  4. Golf is going to make a total show of it self on Monday, selfish people with not a care for anything only themselves will be travelling whatever distance it takes. Other sports who are not allowed back are all watching and the stupidity of golfers will be exposed. Very sad.

      • I live 12kms from my Club so won’t be teeing it up until the travel restrictions allow. I’ve checked our timesheet for Monday and guess what ? it is full from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 14 minute intervals. Many of those booked to play live further away than I do, so if that scenario is replicated all over the country, you won’t need a crystal ball to predict the outcome.

  5. Two points;-

    1. Why are golf courses not allowing 4-balls, bearing in mind that Gov. guidelines allow 4 people from different houses to meet outside of their houses?.

    2. Why are the Gui and some clubs adopting such an apologetic, weak and ‘cap in hand’ attitude in accepting the guidelines to the restricted re-opening on May 18th?. I saw not one example in any of their utterences regarding the health benefits and safety of playing golf and the totally responsible attitude that golfers have always practised on golf courses. They should have had a totally convincing case in their efforts to seek and achieve a far more favourable result. Would love to see or hear the contents of their submissions.

    • Tim,
      Absolutely correct. It seems that we have now got to the stage where we are expected to be grateful for every crumb that the government allows to drop from the table. The GUI has been very poor in this and remember, they have absolutely no jurisdiction over your club – except for handicapping. Each club is an independent entity owned and operated for the most part by its members and therefore can operate independently if it so wishes. Ours club council has even gone to the ridiculous extreme of limiting play to only 63 members per day! It appears to me that the GUI is more interested in sucking up to the government for those grants that benefit only the elite golfers, not the ordinary member paying his annual levy. I now ask myself, for what am I paying this?

  6. 5km rule will be totally ignored.Shame on those who infringe.GUI are the weakest organisation in the country,they should have lobbied for 1 in all in

  7. The 5km is being totally ignored I think The GUI and golf clubs got it wrong as they knew that their members would take a chance most clubs timesheets are full they should have waited until 20km was allowed they are leaving themselves open to a lot of criticism of the sport.

    Chris

  8. People can go in to supermarkets and in closed area but when you play golf either a four ball or 3 ball in open air the players do not drive the ball to the same spots. Most lad and lady golfer stay away from one another. When people tee off they stay more than 2 meter apart. Same goes for for putting on the green the players allows to be 2 meters aparts. Golfers keep to a code off ethics at all time so people say that social distanceing will allways be carried out and golf is played in a wide open spaces

    • You’re right about that, there’s no problem with how the game is played to facilitate safety for the players.

  9. Some putting their names on timesheets who live over 30km from the club.
    It’s possible that Golf courses will be closed again after a few days of this.
    Depends on the Gardai I suppose.

  10. Many golfers over 70 and many others living well in excess of the 5km.limit are putting their name’s on timesheets. These are the people who will force the government to change their decision.They should also consider, that as this travelling is not essential travel they may not be covered under their car insurance policy ,if they are involved in an accident. Please abide by the guidelines and show respect for other sports who are unable to enjoy their chosen sports at present

  11. As we all know many golfers are going to break the 5km limit to get a game of golf I know everybody is bursting to get back to playing the game we all enjoy I myself am going to wait until the 8th of June for the 20km limit I think it is up to each golf club to police this they have members addresses and should advise them that it is not advisable to travel to play golf or alternatively do not allow them to book tee times we have only one chance to get this right if we get it wrong it could be long time before we get back playing golf another three weeks is not going to make that much difference

  12. What moron in the gui failed in their submission to the government on protocols for returning to golf thought that agreeing a 5k limit was the best way to getting golfers back playing they should have totally ignored that advice,now we have golfers who are suffering mental health issues and need to get out and now their been classed as
    selfish morons and law breakers by people like Kevin Markham the writer of this column,its the gui and the government you should be aiming your despicable comments at and not to golfers who were given hope and then to have it cruelly taken from them with the absolutely stupid 5k rule.what has the gui ever done for the average club member,? Nothing,,

    • Is this an opinion blog piece or an article because the bias is comical. Kevin is the self righteous golfing member of the society, and we should abandon our own independence to play and only abide by what he says… Give me a break !

      Golf is viewed as an elitist sport because of articles and voices like this. Implying the golfing community is so above and beyond others that we are untouchable and should not give other sports and “the public” a chance to point fingers. I mean come down of that pedestal and join the real world. Golf is played by all in this country, not just the wealthy and ‘elite’.

      This entire article is rife with negativity, and bitterness towards those who are going to play from next week onwards regardless of distance restrictions or not. It almost reminds me of a childish scenario of “that’s my ball and I’m going home”, just because you’re not going to do it, you decide to lay blame and shame at the door of those who will.

      The entrie return to golf has been tarnished and divided so many because of a lack of leadership within the GUI and the failure from the Government to relax lockdown protocols. How ridiculous some of the comments are with people clutching at straws to remain self righteous by highlighting ‘car insurance’ and living ‘just under 6km’ and ‘7km’ away and claiming they won’t play and calling on others to “cop on”.

      55% not within 5km, that must be in a town like Lucan or Blanchardstown where there are multiple courses within 5km. Try 95% as is with my club.

      The GUI have totally failed golfers across the country. There should have been no travel distance limit because a golfer will (thanks to some of the guidelines of no clubhouse areas except pro shops being open) play golf and return home, which is straight forward and understandable, but as TIM above asked, where is the logic in restricting players to 3 balls and not 4 balls when groups of 4 are allowed in Public. Blatant “yes sir 3 bags full” from the GUI instead of fighting for our game to return.

      Again no defining clarification from the GUI saying ‘you are NOT PERMITTED to play if you live outside of 5km or over the age of 70’ just confirms they are spineless in delivering nothing other than a piece of advice…

      Hiding behind ‘it is up to the individual’ is only ever going to go one way! Tell someone not to think of an elephant and the first thing they will think of is an elephant. Exactly the same as saying golf course are open but you can’t play because x, y, z, but it’s up to you to follow the ‘advice’ or not. The GUI knew this would be the response and they are “setting us up for a fall” as some say.

      Golf is more than a game for so many, and Kevin should remember that as he has made a career from it. Mental Health is fragile and continuously moving the goal posts or extending restrictions which has been the case over the past few weeks will have a huge effect on people. People need an outlet and going for walks or cycling or doing some exercise in the garden are just not enough for a sportsperson who thrives on competition, whether it be against a competitor or in our case, against the golf course. This needs to be highlighted and not ridiculous measures of 5km being enforced.

      I am a golfer, 11km from my course and I will be playing every single day from Monday onwards. Not so I can join the rebels and break ‘the law’ but because I need golf.

  13. I’m just under 6km from the course and will be waiting until the 20km travel limit comes into force.I fear that Irish golf is going to shoot itself in the foot next week…there’s still time left to dodge the bullet!

  14. Is this an opinion blog piece or an article because the bias is comical. Kevin Markham is the self righteous golfing member of the society, and we should abandon our own wishes to play and only abide by what he says… Give me a break !

    Golf is viewed as an elitist sport because of articles and voices like this. Implying the golfing community is so above and beyond others that we are untouchable and should not give other sports and “the public” a chance to point fingers. I mean come down of that pedestal and join the real world. Golf is played by all in this country, not just the wealthy and ‘elite’.

    This entire article is rife with negativity, and bitterness towards those who are going to play from next week onwards regardless of distance restrictions or not. It almost reminds me of a childish scenario of “that’s my ball and I’m going home”, just because you’re not going to do it, you decide to lay blame and shame at the door of those who will.

    The entrie return to golf has been tarnished and divided so many because of a lack of leadership within the GUI and the failure from the Government to relax lockdown protocols. How ridiculous some of the comments are with people clutching at straws to remain self righteous by highlighting ‘car insurance’ and living ‘just under 6km’ and ‘7km’ away and claiming they won’t play and calling on others to “cop on”.

    55% not within 5km, that must be in a town like Lucan or Blanchardstown where there are multiple courses within 5km. Try 95% as is with my club.

    The GUI have totally failed golfers across the country. There should have been no travel distance limit because a golfer will (thanks to some of the guidelines of no clubhouse areas except pro shops being open) play golf and return home, which is straight forward and understandable, but as TIM above asked, where is the logic in restricting players to 3 balls and not 4 balls when groups of 4 are allowed in Public. Blatant “yes sir 3 bags full” from the GUI instead of fighting for our game to return.

    Again no defining clarification from the GUI saying ‘you are NOT PERMITTED to play if you live outside of 5km or over the age of 70’ just confirms they are spineless in delivering nothing other than a piece of advice…

    Hiding behind ‘it is up to the individual’ is only ever going to go one way! Tell someone not to think of an elephant and the first thing they will think of is an elephant. Exactly the same as saying golf course are open but you can’t play because x, y, z, but it’s up to you to follow the ‘advice’ or not. The GUI knew this would be the response and they are “setting us up for a fall” as some say.

    Golf is more than a game for so many, and Kevin should remember that as he has made a career from it. Mental Health is fragile and continuously moving the goal posts or extending restrictions which has been the case over the past few weeks will have a huge effect of people. People need an outlet and going for walks or cycling or doing some exercise in the garden are just not enough for a sportsperson who thrives on competition, whether it be against a competitor or in our case, against the golf course. This needs to be highlighted and not ridiculous measures of 5km being enforced.

    I am a golfer, 11km from my course and I will be playing every single day from Monday onwards. Not so I can join the rebels and break ‘the law’ but because I need golf.

  15. I see from the various mails and items posted by the GUI that its not up to the clubs to police the 5km or the over 70’s, Yet they are expecting clubs to ensure that the BRS timesheets are kept and only those on the timesheets are allowed out on the course, this is all of course for contact tracing,
    what happens if someone catches the virus from someone who was outside the 5Km radius and then that person gets very sick and turns around when he recovers. decides to sue the golf club. Who is responsible then.
    too many blind eyes here. the golf club, the golfer and the GUI.
    golf is ment to be a game of honor and integrity.
    it would seem that there is very little left in the game at the moment.

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