Golf could be set for March 5th reopening – Varadkar

John Craven

The 4th at County Sligo. Photo by Kevin Markham

John Craven

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In a boost to golfers across the country, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar believes golf could be one of a number of outdoor pursuits permitted to reopen as the Government takes a “cautious and conservative” approach to the easing of its current Level 5 restrictions.

Although case numbers remain high and the likelihood is that indoor retail will remain closed well beyond the current March 5th date, pursuits like golf should benefit given the sport naturally lends itself to social distancing and has already proved it can reopen successfully under Covid safety guidelines.

“If you remember the way we reopened after the first wave, which was a pretty successful reopening, the kind of things that were done initially were outdoor,” Varadkar told The Hard Shoulder.

“Outdoors is much safer so allowing people maybe to meet other people outdoors – the golf, outdoor retail that type of thing. I think you are much more likely to see that being allowed than personal services which is up close and personal and tends to be indoors and therefore a slightly higher risk, notwithstanding all the amazing work people that run those businesses did to make their businesses safe.”

“Potentially there will be elements of outdoor exercise that are not allowed at the moment. Like for example, golf. Like for example underage teams doing some form of training. The kind of things you would see in Level Four of the existing plan.”

It would be a massive boost to the industry if golf was again given the green light to reopen. Many still believe it should never have been closed in the first place. They felt much safer on a golf course playing in groups of four with friends they trusted in a sparsely populated field than going down to the local supermarket amongst strangers in chaos where distancing was seldom observed.

In truth, given the weather of late, golf has been the last thing on many people’s minds. Frozen courses haven’t exactly been conducive to a winter hit but March is party-time for golfers. Signs of spring mean Captain’s drive-ins and the call of the new season. The industry can survive another winter’s hibernation but golf clubs need to make the most of peak playing time, beginning in March.

An insatiable appetite still rumbles for golf. The rush to the tee-sheet will be a frenzy once the light shifts from red to green but golf has proven itself capable of reopening responsibly already. The game will rise to such a challenge again if it means play resumes from March 5th. That said, the Government are understandably eager to avoid a quick reopening and whether golfers like it or not, we are lumped in with everything else when it comes to a countrywide approach to stopping this disease.

“I don’t think anybody in the country wants to see us open up as quickly as we did back in early December because, particularly with the B117 variant, there is a risk that cases could take off very quickly again,” Varadkar added.

“So, the kind of reopening you might see is something more like what you might have seen last May or June after the first wave. A bit more cautious so that if it goes wrong, we can act quickly. We don’t want a situation whereby the horse has bolted before people hear the door slam.”


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17 responses to “Golf could be set for March 5th reopening – Varadkar”

  1. Michael mcgovern avatar
    Michael mcgovern

    Over the last few months the silence from golf Ireland has been deafening!!
    Surely some fundamental questions have to be asked, what have they done, what are they going to do, for the members of golf clubs throughout the country , who HAVE to pay a compulsory levy to them.
    No doubt queries will be met with the usual wall of silence from this seemingly useless bunch. In conclusion, golf Ireland, do we really need you?

    1. Jim avatar

      Agreed Michael, what are they doing for us, why don’t they organise a nationwide campaign to get all golfers together and put OUR case to the government.

      1. Jim avatar

        The Golfing Ireland recommendations last was to insist on 2 balls except in family groups of 4. Ridiculous. Too much pressure on timesheets and harder for clubs to monitor.

  2. PJByrne avatar

    A 3 months extra time after paying the yearly fee would be a start.

  3. Thomas Cooper avatar
    Thomas Cooper

    Reduced season last year on full subscription and looking like the same this year. Golf is no longer the preserve of the wealthy, so guidane from our governing body on some form of fee reduction would be welcome. Like many business’,Golf Clubs have seen a dramatic reduction of membership and income. Clear business decisions need to be made and guidance would be welcome.

  4. Ger avatar

    Being on the finance committee of a members run club that non-profit making, I can see the frustration of members having to pay 12 months when we cannot play in january & february due to covid-19. However, all the bills still have to be paid for January/February as the members will expect the course to be pristine when we reopen & the books still have to be balanced. We have been luckly enough through Golf Ireland/government grants and other member investments in our club to be able to offer 2 free months, but a lot of members run/owned clubs dont have the finances to do that.

  5. Tim avatar

    And please, when golf does get back, let it be for any group up to 4 players. A 2-ball social game of golf is totally unattractive – I’d rather go for a walk in my locality within the permitted radius at the time.

  6. Danny avatar

    It will be good to see golf back as it can be played safely. However I did see some players close together at tee boxes and around pro shop. If we all obey the rules we can play golf safe.y.

  7. Avril avatar

    Golf should definitely be open. We are one of the only countries to have it closed this long. It is more socially distanced than any other sport. Outdoors, you have your own clubs, you travel most likely alone. Ludicrous that it isn’t open now.

  8. Ninfa avatar

    About time.

  9. David Looney avatar
    David Looney

    Nothing in that article points to golf in March……….. False hope ???

  10. Brendan avatar

    Golfing is one of the best examples of naturally controlled social distancing that there is. You use your own golf ball, you are outdoors in a huge area, pre-booked tee times are several minutes apart which means the player teeing off before you is about 400 yards in front, likewise for player after you (400 yards behind). Golfers have to book their round in advance via online tee booking system (ideal for contact tracing as their details are on the system). When golf courses were last open, golf clubs made it even safer by implementing successfully additional restrictions, e.g., ensuring golfers arrive to golf just in time to tee off (stay in car if arriving too early), no rakes in bunkers, no touching flags, practice areas closed (no place for gathering ), no bins (bring your own litter home), no air sprays for cleaning shoes etc etc.

  11. Janice avatar

    I agree. Golf courses should be allowed to open. Plenty of room for players to adhere to social distance. It worked ok last year. Also, it’s exercise. We have paid our fees for this year, and haven’t even hit a golf ball. Clubs, and players will be rusty.

  12. alan avatar

    wouldnt listen to a word that comes out of leo the leak/liars mouth it whatever suits him on the day false hope it will be a disgrace if they dont open on march 5th

  13. Graham avatar

    I agree with all the comments above. As mentioned in a previous comment why is Ireland the only country to have prohibited golf!!
    Is there any evidence that the government has, that suggested that being on a golf course is more dangerous than going to local grocery store (indoors)? Has there been any COVID 19 clusters on a golf course? Has there been any track and trace number identified on a golf course?
    Golf is also a respectable sport and a form of exercise for young and old!

  14. Henry Bartlett avatar
    Henry Bartlett

    I agree with everything except the “ Two ball game “ being so unattractive.

    I’ve never heard such a ridiculous comment in my life.

    Golf is recreational for most of us, and I generally golf with one good friend, maybe two.

    I will have a long road travelled, and it will be a very sad day, that I will EVER give any consideration to aesthetics while trying to relax.


  15. r80 avatar

    I think that they should have not close the golf course in level 5 . They can have horse racing on and 6 nations and the us open in golf to go a head . so they should open golf course on the same day as the school reopen on the 1st of March 2021.

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