No hope on the horizon & a lack of communication not helping

John Shortt

Image designed by Ed Moynihan

The mood music coming from Government and Nphet around the re-opening of anything on March 5th isn’t especially joyful. The words being used and the general gloominess being foretold have us somewhat less than expectant of anything changing in the short term.  Schools are seemingly first on the list and for those like me who are home schooling, this will be welcomed with open arms, but are we missing a trick?

We’re covering old ground here but keeping people to a 5km limit when there isn’t enough space in the parks and on walkways in urban areas to cater for them seems like madness, particularly for those in the more vulnerable over 60 age bracket. There is, however, a ready-made solution which can impact on a decent percentage of the population – opening the golf clubs and the tennis clubs and other clubs where social distancing and localised restrictions can ensure people’s safety. Sounds like a winner to me!

I’m not saying we have to open them today but adding another 4 or 6 (or 9 as one prominent politician seems to want to do) weeks to this lockdown will just heighten the levels of non-compliance that we are already seeing. The World Health Organisation have said that lockdowns aren’t working but you don’t need them to tell you that, just look at your local park, the M50 packed in the morning and the case numbers still in the many hundreds here. We need alternative solutions.


I get the movement of people issue, I get the protecting the hospitals issue and I’m 100% on board with all that but there comes a time when you have to make changes. What’s being done isn’t working like it did before. To protect the mental & physical health of a reasonable percentage of people, to help them exercise and to keep them safe, opening some areas of sport seems like a simple decision. Other decisions can be made to help other groups too but some sports lend themselves to compliance with restrictions, golf being one, and these should be first, and they should be soon.

Notwithstanding any decisions that come our way, the Government messaging around opening or not opening has continued to be atrocious. It’s matched only by the public silence from Governing bodies in sport in general who are undoubtedly working behind the scenes but who don’t seem to think telling us about that is a good idea. I appreciate there’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario with communications from the Governing bodies but at this stage the only way is up when it comes to public perception.

In their defence, the PGA did come out recently and ask people to contact their local representative to promote the benefits of golf. I’m all for this but I think we have to be mindful that it isn’t just golf we should be campaigning for. Yes, golf is a priority for golfers, but there are other pursuits that lend themselves equally to the circumstances and these should be encouraged too.

All of this is said more in hope than expectation but it would be a very positive step to move towards opening some sports and it would provide a much needed shot in the arm to a people who have been left with little or no hope and little or nothing to look forward to.

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23 responses to “No hope on the horizon & a lack of communication not helping”

  1. Stephen Mangan avatar
    Stephen Mangan

    Nailed it John. Travelling on your own to your own club to play a socially distanced round of golf worked before and there’s no reason it wouldn’t work now. The government are steadily losing the audience and more and more people will take it into their own hands the longer the lockdown goes on

    1. Joe Hoctor avatar
      Joe Hoctor

      Hi all. I still cannot believe that golf Ireland does not own a pair of balls between them. Take 1 look at your supermarket, local park or promenade and you will copious amounts of people forced into areas by a government who are so devoid of lateral thinking that they have to revert to the same tactics and ideas from a pandemic over 100 years ago. What does that tell ya. I am a 4 handicap golfer with 2 kids aged 4 &6 . I work 5 1/2 days a week so sunday morning is my only real window to enjoy this wonderful game yet I can’t because these knob heads are trying to make some sort of point after golfgate that golf is wrong. I am aware that there is a so called pandemic but am I wrong in asking how many people have died of old age since last march??? Let people play golf & sports that are able to show they can be “safe” and let those who have committed no crime not be punished for our government’s inadequacies. Yours in golf joe hoctor

      1. Daniel avatar

        Nailed ….

  2. Robert avatar

    I think we are missing the big picture. The numbers are still to high in the community we will just have to wait. We will have time to play when this horrible virus is under control.

    1. James avatar

      We’re not though, if a certain activity is safe then if it’s safe, it’s no different than going for a walk in the park with a friend, in fact if anything it’s probably marginally safer.
      Golf continues in Scotland with two balls, its just common sense, but common sense has gone out the window these days. Likewise, no country has closed down construction in Europe except little old Ireland. Its no wonder people aren’t listening anymore

    2. John avatar

      My view of the Big Picture as a very active 70 year old, and also a very frequent traveler, is that it is not working. During one of my walks this week around Dublin 3, I passed 8 new build/extension/refurb projects in the area, work still continues on 4 of these and in fact one was a very obvious new start a couple of hundred yards from the Garda station. The previous day my walk took me to Fairview Park, where the skateboard area was crammed with young people with many of their parents sitting closely together chatting.
      We are currently in this mess because NYPHET does not use common sense in their advice (demands) to the Gov. If common sense had been used alongside the scientific data in Mid Dec surely someone in this so called illustrious group could have raised their voice to say this new strain was already up and running fast in the SE of England and maybe it would be safer to restrict travel in from England over the Christmas period. Because it was as certain as day follows night that it would land into Ireland. All we heard from the CMO and NYPHET was there was no evidence of the new strain in Ireland.
      I can forego my foreign travel for another couple of months but I will not continue to follow the restrictions brought about by an inadequate government for another 9 weeks. So it is now time for the Gov to look at the picture from a different lens as they are now losing the support of many in the country

  3. John avatar

    Our so called government that the people voted against that joined together with the other party’s that also the country voted against and now there ruling the roost ,there making decisions and rules that are coming from a team called nephet,that until now we’re never heard off ,not one single death of the common cold or flu since February 2019,a whole year of no deaths ,people really are we all that brainwashed into thinking that this virus that appeared from nowhere or sorry a fish market in wuhan that we still have no clue where or how it started ,all the technology in the world but yet the who only visited there 3 weeks ago to look for clues ,we as a society have lost our fighting will ,we let banks riddle and destroy our lives ,we let corrupt politicians rule and destroy our country that our grandparents fought for ,we need action in this country ,we need our leaders to have balls ,to stand up and lock our ports and airports, instead now we have the Brazilian strain in our land ,and now the Japanese strain is detected in countries, how long before that arrives here I wonder ,all sports should be allowed to return under controlled circumstances, we allow foriegners to enter our land and bring the different strains and yet we are the ones who have to stay our distance,rant over can’t wait to hit the course again whenever that will be

  4. Patrick avatar

    this is part great reset every one in power is in the payday from big companies now they have bankrupt every country,everyone in the Goverment is trying to get out with the most amount of money they know that every country is going to collapse the whole world is a bomb ready to explode that is the truth that’s why no out understands what’s going on nothing make any sence any more printing money with no care about there country. Irvemectin would stop the virus in every country only poor country who can not get vaccines using uk letting people die won’t pass ivermectin for use in our hospital that is mass murder by our Goverment if you don’t believe me check out ivermectin your self

  5. dave richards avatar
    dave richards

    Time a lot more common sense was applied by the powers that govern us.
    We all need the mental and physical benefits of activities not the negative stress being uselessly applied by Nphet and the Govt.
    ALL outdoor single person sports should be immediately allowed – Tennis, Golf, Running, Swimming, Climbing, Archery etc. Do away with useless 5 / 10kms and county travel limits NOW.
    Everyone knows all the safety protocols by heart and apply them. Time for the authorities to acknowledge that we are adults, are sensible, careful and able to act responsibly.

  6. Orla avatar

    I very much have to agree with your every word John, playing golf by yourself or with a single playing partner in acres of land to me is much safer than walking my local roads and bypass where people are out in groups of up to 4 or 5 walking and running. Mind you, no 2m between these groups also.
    What’s to stop even a fisherman or woman going fishing, they generally do this by themselves. My own parents are ageing by the day and fear going for their daily walks due to the number of people out walking the same roads and paths.
    It’s time government made sense of this whole situation and sport Ireland also need to pull up their socks and think of reality and stop using their imaginations.
    We do not need to be elite sports people to get out and enjoy a few holes of golf, go fishing, archery or whatever the individual sport is out in the fresh air. We are probably better at obeying the regulations than the so called ‘elite’ sports people.
    One final word, how are golf clubs going to be able to get membership fees in for the maintenance and upkeep of our courses if they don’t open very soon. Members I’m sure will not be happy to pay full fees this years if we stay closed for much longer.

  7. Colin Dockray avatar
    Colin Dockray

    My golf course seems to have been turned into a public space with people from the local area exercising their dogs/children. I can walk round all 18 holes if I want, I just can’t take my golf clubs with me. Where is the sense in that?

  8. Danny Mahon avatar
    Danny Mahon

    So frustrated by this. If golf wasn’t safe, then I would be ok with it. But golfing on your own (which I would do quite often anyways) or with a couple of others at a safe distance (remember no bar/restaurant open, office not open, pins left in, no rakes in bunkers) is perfectly safe. And for those living in urban areas, golfing is actually more safe than going for a walk in the park. Golf is literally made for socially distancing!!!

  9. Paul Goti avatar
    Paul Goti

    I live in Portmarnock across the road from the Portmarnock Hotel and the beach.
    I walked the beach today. It was packed with hundreds of people, many of whom were not observing social distance whatsoever.
    20 yards away from where they were walking is a golf course spread over several acres and not a sinner to be seen on it.
    Something is very wrong here.
    I have photographs which I will gladly send to you to prove our case that golf clubs must be allowed to open if others can interact this way without any stoppage by our politicians.

  10. Mark o Neill avatar
    Mark o Neill

    Gui are affected by the €19 million they were given to promote ladies golf all hush money
    Afraid to speak out for the clubs

  11. Anobserver avatar

    Dear John,
    Very much like the general direction your article goes in. Like that one or two questions are asked. Critical thinking is important. We are human beings after all. We must ask, seek, knock.
    So, one thought here, are we beginning to understand This Whole Thing mightn’t be about Health, about a so-called Pandemic (personal preference is to insert the letter ‘l’ somewhere inside there…), after all? Could it possibly be about something else? Let’s see, perhaps a Great Reset, a New World Order? Ah, it couldn’t possibly be that, could it? Surely our much esteemed Leaders have nothing but the best for us plebs at heart?! Hmmm…

  12. Paddy avatar

    Excellent John.
    I know that it was written from the heart as a golfer & as a fan of golf. Yet it had the big picture in mind hence the common sense points made to support your comments. Everybody who has responded to your piece has so far endorsed your views .
    Isn’t it such a pity that golf Ireland, who are supposed to represent us golfers who pay their wages via our COMPULSORY levy, do not apparently agree with our views. Otherwise I’m sure we would have had communication from them informing us of what they have done on our behalf……SILENCE!
    Not good enough.
    Shame on you golf Ireland.

  13. MMD avatar

    Great stuff John! Keep her lit ?.. Absolutely crazy not to allow outdoor ‘single’ sport. Looking at the parks.. Overcrowded.. The single household restrictions totally ignored. Online booking etc etc etc for golf; tennis etc.. These sports are made for social distancing.. Esp the way we play golf ⛳ ?

  14. John avatar

    Agree with everything paddy says.
    Just putting it out there but from an operational point of view golf clubs can continue without supporting the sinecure jobs in golf Ireland & therefore we as members do not have to pay the compulsory levy. Clubs who wish to participate in golf Ireland cups can do so by paying the participation fee, so nothing changes. Those clubs who wish to play in these cups don’t pay the fee. Clubs who want to play competitive matches with other clubs can do so, in their vicinity or with those with whom they have a relationship. Rules of golf still governed by r&a, whilst local rules may still apply.
    Let’s face it golf Ireland have done nothing for us so with this extremely simplistic framework(further details can be worked on) we are no worse off, in fact we are better off ! How, by not paying the compulsory levy to Golf Ireland & thus continuing to pay for a seemingly worthless & faceless & yes, silent bureaucracy.
    Worth discussing?

  15. Bren avatar

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that golf is probably the best example of organized social distancing that exists. It is naturally achieved by pre booked tee times. Surely the government know this is safer than random walkers on public footpaths gatherings for a chat. Or worse when groups of random walkers using golf courses as a public park. It must be “Golfgate” that is making the government scared to bring up an old wound instead of using common sense. Pre booked tee times with names and details of golfers is the most organized and adhered to practice that I can see in this pandemic.

  16. Matthew Farrell avatar
    Matthew Farrell

    Well said John,I think every golfer in the country should read your comments,if enough golfers in every golf club got together and informed their club that they were not paying the levy to golf Ireland but would pay their annual subscription, golf Ireland would become non existent, golf clubs don’t need golf Ireland to survive

  17. Joe Hoctor avatar
    Joe Hoctor

    Yet again, here we are. Another fantastic showing from the uncontactable and unaccountable golf Ireland. No mention whatsoever about probably the safest sport played. That all golfers are idiots. Cant social distance. More spin and rubbish about Brazilian and Kent variants. Excuse my language but what the fuck as a nation of people have we turned into that we are rolling over and taking this. I for one will be in contact with my local Td to seek clarity on how to can allow sweaty joggers & hoardes of people in parks and shops come within inches of tour personal space yet cant enjoy a 2 vall on a 150 acre golf course. Its time we just arrive at our golf courses and play. With no one behind us, were on our own. I for one am gonna seize the moment very soon.

  18. Paddy avatar

    Told all will be well once we have the vaccine. So we have it and it works but nothing changes. Politicians love the data so what does it tell us about outdoor sport. They don’t know. Sad.

  19. christy mcguirk avatar
    christy mcguirk

    All these letters to a golf magazine are of little or no value, what we need is to get our representatives on the radio and tv programs like the clare Byrne show,or the late late show or the ryan tuberity shows and make a strong case for the immediate return to golf and use all the points as made in all the letters you have sent, as they make very strong and reasonable sense, come on Peter Finnan get yourself on the tv or radio,,ASAP,

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