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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