In response to the Welsh Government adopting a ‘firebreak’ approach to their handling of Covid-19, it has been confirmed that every golf course in Wales will be ordered to close from Friday for a period of two-and-a-half weeks.
The worry now for golfers across Ireland, having heard that the country will move to level 5 restrictions from Wednesday night, is… are we next?
The Golfing Union of Ireland has said that a joint statement from the GUI and ILGU will be issued once the game’s governing bodies confirm what is permitted under Level 5.
In Wales, in their bid to bring Covid-19 under control, not only will golf courses be closed for a period of 17 days until November 9 but tennis courts, leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools will also shut their doors.
A statement on the Welsh Government website reads: “Sportspeople who work and earn a living through sport are allowed to continue working, and like everyone else they can leave home to do so if they cannot work from home.
“However, the elite programme, overseen by Sport Wales, will be suspended during this circuit breaker period.
“Fixtures involving professional sportspeople are allowed to continue behind closed doors. All participants, such as players, officials, coaches, and broadcasters are there in a working capacity.”
Under Ireland’s Level 5 restrictions, a 5 kilometre limit on non-essential journeys would immediately question the merits of many clubs opening at all depending on their geographic location.
In an ideal world an exception would be made for golfers who are members of their clubs to travel beyond the 5 kilometres, remaining in their car and meeting nobody for the entire journey, but the likelihood of the game’s governing bodies being able to negotiate a deal like this for the sport given the wider economic impacts of Monday’s announcement is optimistic at best.
Many will argue that golf, for them, is essential; that it’s the only escape they have from the hysteria surrounding Covid-19 and that the thoughts of six weeks without the game is too hard to stomach.
You only have to look at how difficult it’s been to get a tee-time this year, particularly on weekends, to know how many people have been benefitting from the health benefits of golf. The appetite for the game somewhat negated the money lost during the last lockdown and memberships have been on the rise around the country since.
What impact will another six-week barren spell have on our 400 plus golf courses around the country? For some, it might be the final nail in the coffin. The game’s governing bodies in Ireland, the GUI and ILGU, will know that. They’ll fight for the sport we all love and hope it can continue as a ray of hope amidst the doom.
However, they’ll be equally aware that an us against them mentality is no good for anyone either and the longer term ramifications such a position would have on the game’s reputation could prove to be more irreparable than a six-week closure ever could.
Whatever happens, we’re all in this together.
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