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Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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Competition addicts are selfish

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For somebody who is ferociously and legendarily competitive and does indignation as well as anyone at times, I am not impressed by the over-reaction of so many social media warriors to the GUI’s (forced) withdrawal of the permission given to its member clubs to proceed with competition golf on June 8th.

It’s a case of blaming the unfortunate messenger who brought the bad news. The decision to delay was made by the Chief Medical Officer and Government in collaboration with Sport Ireland – not the GUI/ILGU who were obviously misled.

It is not the first time a political decision with the intention of giving the public a perception of ‘fairness’ missed the mark; only to achieve confusion and frustration. There is simply nothing the GUI and ILGU can (or could) do about it. At worst, it only means waiting ‘a few more weeks’ and club competitions will be allowed to resume. At best, it means the sizeable minority of club golfers (men and women) who could not care less about winning paltry vouchers or trivial trophies and do not even bother to hold a current handicap, will continue to have an equal opportunity to put their names on busy time sheets.

As soon as competitive golf begins in earnest again, all of the plum tee times will be snatched up by the competitive players and the casual golfers will be pushed aside and have to make do with whatever spare times are left over. Playing in a competition every weekend does not suit everybody and woe betide the casual golfer whenever they have the misfortune to delay or hold up a group playing in a competition.

At the heart of the ban on competitions is the ignorance and poor judgement of the CMO and Sport Ireland; not the GUI or ILGU who must be seething but they had no choice but to take it on the chin and play ‘the long political game’.

In spite of all of the dedicated hard work and sacrifice by the Covid-19 front-liners, it’s no surprise to me that confusion reigns. The inevitable disruption caused by the pandemic has not been perfectly managed, but how could it be? Trying to implement an exit strategy so the economy (including sporting activities like golf) can begin getting back to normal is bound to be messy. More messiness is what is ahead of us in all spheres of our lives (for months, if not a whole year) We just need to deal with it as patiently as we can.

The way I’m dealing with it is to count my blessings, keep my head down, swing smoothly and play my own golf as often as I am allowed, without worrying about the bottom line (score) winning prizes and whether my handicap is going up or down. So, I note my good and bad shots and ignore the grand total (sometimes, it’s not so grand)

These days, if you are kind enough to ask me my score, I might answer: 7-9-2, which means seven well-played, orthodox holes where I put my drive into a good position and approached onto the green in an orderly fashion by playing ‘proper’ golf shots. The nine would signify hitting one less than tolerable shot on the hole, but the others were satisfactory, and I still made par or had a genuine chance of making one. Bad holes are the result of two poor, less than satisfactory, shots played in succession or a destructive one that made achieving par impossible. That is as much as I need to know at the end of the round. I apply my own standards to decide what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s more entertaining than putting cold-hearted numbers on a card. Sometimes those numbers tell lies and hide the full story, whereas recording 7-9-2, 9-6-3 or 6-7-5 is usually closer to the truth, more fun and less stressful.

In the current environment, golfers should be glad just to be able to play and leave it at that. Most clubs would struggle to run competitions in Phase 2 anyway. Various protocols would have to be put in place (by volunteers) including a system that avoids handling cash; not as easy as some think. Judging by how difficult it is for some members to adhere to timesheet protocols, I fear the wallet system would be rocket science for them with plenty of teething problems that (again) volunteers would be expected (and never thanked) for dealing with. It often surprises me how selfish some golfers can be. A golf club has to be run in a balanced way to ensure that ALL members’ needs are catered for – not just the competition addicts.



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  1. Well lads, just saw the article and wanted to give you some feedback.

    I think the over reaction by some golfers on social media revolved around the GUI/ILGU/Golf Ireland announcement on June 1st that once the Government went to Phase 2 – it was game on for 4 balls and competition golf. Local club competition committees would have changed time sheets, contacted sponsors and arranged new volunteer rotas only to be told at the last minute that “no play today.”

    A “few more weeks” could be the financial death nail for some clubs and highlights the grave error the governing bodies made in banning visitors until the end of June. It is my opinion that they need an Ainsley Hayes character sitting at the table during current board meetings as described by Mark Kennely recently.

    I would be disappointed to learn that golf clubs push aside casual golfers in preference to competition golfers on their timesheet and can confirm that doesn’t happen at the three clubs I’m familiar with.

    I agree that the ban is poor judgement but would hope that the GUI/ILGU/Golf Ireland are hammering down doors with their own medical evidence to try and change the decision before the end of the month.

    Agreeing with the mess we are in I felt that we had a golden opportunity as one of the first sports to get the go-ahead to do things completely differently to the way the GUI/ILGU/Golf Ireland decided.

    My main disagreement with the tone of your piece is the negative way you portray competition golfers. I get annoyed when the perception of golf is outlined as a hobby/past time and not a sport. I don’t want to see golf become a retirement home for ex players from various other codes; it should be battling to attain a position on the podium of Irish sports where the GAA, Rugby and Association Football current reside.

    Finally speaking from personal experience, I was humbled by the thanks I received from the members of Westport Golf Club following my weeks voluntary work as a car park attendant during the 2019 Cups & Shields provincial and national finals.

    Hope you are all well and enjoy reading your daily observations here on social media. Paul

  2. Your summation of the current situation is ‘tommyrot’. Whilst you are entitled to your opinion, Golf is a competitive & can be a contactless sport & should not be grouped in with other sports that social distancing is impossible to achieve.
    Sporting Ireland’s directive to the GUI /ILGU shows a total misunderstanding of what was achieved with the resumption of golf and it is the responsibility of the GUI/ILGU to lobby the appropriate authorities, to get an earlier resumption of golf than the phase 3 date of 29th June.

  3. I agree with Paul on his above comments regarding competition and casual golfers. At my club, there is no distinction with one over the other. Everyone has equal access to the timesheet and everyone plays together, usually in 3 balls. While I am also a bit frustrated with no competitions for a few weeks yet, I am happy to be out on the fairways in this good weather playing the game I enjoy. Many other sports have a long way to go yet so we should be content with our lot. Use the rounds as preparation and practice for when we’ll be competing again. At least my handicap is steady for the moment.

  4. Competition are usually the only way ordinary golfers have of feeling like the professionals .we play to see if we can play to our handicap or better it if we can. To say some golfers are addicted to competitions is unfair and unjust.The truth is when playing casual golf you spend most of your round practicing and not really enjoying the game as it should be played.

  5. The outrage in most clubs is not the playing of competitive golf it is the loss of income which could force many clubs into a financial crisis that will take many years to get out of. The cost of maintaining courses and keeping up an administrative presence is still there. The only possible income stream at this stage is competition entry fees. The Government is anxious to open up the economy but has disregarded clubs particularly golf clubs.

  6. Competitive golf was prematurely announced and it is disingenuous to try and exonerate the GUI/ILGU completely, they were clearly the victims of wishful thinking if not naivety and to suggest otherwise in the current climate of lockdown and cocooning is to demonstrate the ignorance and poor judgement that others are being accused of. In a world where a grandparent cannot hug their grandchild, and where a person can not attend the funeral of a loved one, belly aching about not being allowed to win a token or a bit of glassware while indulging in your privileged outdoor pursuit will get you very little sympathy.

  7. As a mad keen golfer and a Committee member I am pleased there is a delay in Competition golf. As I was well outside the 5km I only returned to the club yesterday but others who are back 3 weeks are raring to go. It takes time to organise competitions in our new normal so please be patient whilst the practicalities are worked through. Thanks, I enjoy the magazine.

  8. Thank you Ivan for putting the other side of the argument. In the overall scheme of things we should be counting our blessings.

  9. Its precisely because of ‘competitive’ golf becoming a handicap increase festival that many now couldn’t care less whether it returns or not. Lots of ‘competition’ being played by friends in groups who know that the others in the group are not just after their money.

  10. Paul Smith
    Belly aching,,privilege outdoor pursuit,, what on earth kind of world do you live in,its not a privilege to be able to play golf no more then it’s a privilege to play any sport,your just another keyboard warrior who has a deluded
    Opinion on golfers and the whole game itself and I doubt you are even a golfer,take time out to read the TWO articles that have brought on these reactions to the Gui,s failings.

  11. What a load of rubbish Ivan,
    What about paying the workers who maintained the golf courses while on lockdown.
    A lot of clubs will struggle to survive financially , and the first chance to take in some small amount of income is knocked on the head at short notice, and instead of supporting clubs all Ivan can do is knock the competitive golfer.

  12. Can’t understand where Ivan is coming from. He seems to be under the impression that golfers who play in competitions have more rights to the time sheet and make little of other golfers. I have played golf for 20 years and have never seen or heard of this happening in any golf club. It’s impossible anyway. Everyone has the same access to the time sheet. The GUI need to stand up. Maybe they could take a look at the horse racing boys who seem to be far more able to get things done for their members.


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