Do we dare to hope?

John Shortt

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John Shortt

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Does anyone else feel like Russell Crowe in that famous scene from Gladiator where Joaquin Phoenix is standing with his arm outstretched and about to decide his fate by pointing his thumb either up or down? Are we going to get a yay or nay? Can we play golf or have we to stick with what we’ve got? Who decides, how do they decide, when do they decide and what do they take into consideration when deciding…all valid questions to you and I but seemingly less so to the folks in Nphet as they don’t seem too keen to share that information.

I have to say that I had a little giggle when the Taoiseach said recently that he understands that people are ‘fed-up’ with the situation. Is this something new to him I wonder, or is it just the realisation that’s new? We’ve been fed-up a long time sir. We’re way past fed-up now.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system it’s time to talk turkey. No, not the Christmas Turkeys we didn’t get to play for last year; I want to outline some of the things I’ve noticed – I’m no doctor or medical professional for that matter but some of this just seems wrong to me;

  • I’m struggling mentally as well as physically with this third lockdown which has been harder in the extreme than the other two and which will leave scars long after it’s gone.
  • It feels to me that my concerns, and those of golfers in general have not been heard. I appreciate that Golf Ireland are working behind the scenes but it feels like we’re being punished for the actions of some Dail individuals last year, where the issue wasn’t even the golf but rather the hotel dinner they had afterwards!
  • I currently encounter more people on a 7am walk with the dog than I would outside on a golf course at any time of any day in the history of me playing golf. If I go at 1pm, I might as well be walking down a sunny Grafton Street in July 2019 there are so many folks around.
  • I’m likely more at risk of catching Covid from my kids who have gone back to school or from the trolley in Dunnes Stores than I am from my playing partners who I’d hardly see much on the course.

For the sake of my sanity, and I’m sure the sanity of many golfers, I’d love to see golf re-open soon. It’s set for April 1st in Northern Ireland with certain restrictions and we’re waiting ala Mr. Crowe to see what fate will befall us in ROI. Golf hasn’t closed in Scotland and they’ve not seen fit to admonish anyone there for an increase in cases linked to it – surely a leaf from this playbook could be examined?

In my opinion, golf should be opened if for no other reason than it will take a percentage of people out of public parks, off the busy streets and put them into a safer environment playing golf. For the record, I believe tennis and other individual sports should also be given the green light to resume.

If an RTE article at the weekend, which said golf and tennis are viewed as less of a priority in Government circles right now than lifting restrictions for U18 training is correct, then it’s not looking good for us. Case numbers holding or rising also don’t tell a happy tale as they come through each evening but clearly what is being done right now has stopped working and what we need is a change.

How about this one: Open some things up, give us something to do, somewhere to go, a way to interact safely with friends or family and you might just find that we have more of an appetite for sticking to the other restrictions than currently exists. This could in turn bring cases down.

As I mentioned above, I’m no doctor but I don’t think you need to be one to see that what’s happening right now isn’t working. Change is what’s needed and safely opening some areas of society for everyone, not just U18’s, while keeping others closed will help us get through what will undoubtedly be a difficult few months ahead.

I’d go to Mass and say a prayer… only that’s not allowed either!


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9 responses to “Do we dare to hope?”

  1. Richie avatar

    Well written John but probably making too much sense to be taken on board by our government who have no imagination at all. Remember the last announcement of what was meant to be a road map. The road map was children back to school everything else the same for the next 6 weeks.
    Clever stuff indeed. We see that once again the government are making children the main priority.
    Of course we want to see children back playing sport but what about everyone else. I think we should start calling our taoiseach Mehal
    MARTIAN he’s definately living on another planet to the rest of us.

  2. John avatar

    Well said John, one question needs to be asked. HAS ANYONE CAUGHT COVID PLAYING GOLF???.
    That’s how simple things are

  3. Donal O'Gallagher avatar
    Donal O'Gallagher

    Well Put John. Unfortunately not only is the current approach not working but it is being ignored by what looks to me like the majority. The queues outside all of our local coffee shops infuriates me daily – no masks and no social distancing. On our local “cove” beach at the weekend the Sea Swimmers even brought a wood burning pit complete with logs etc and sat in a very large circle for hours again with no masks and no distancing, whilst polluting the beautiful fresh sea air with foul smelling smoke – not a care in the world for anyone but themselves.
    My regular walk takes me past our closed golf club when just shy of 100 acres of green open space is empty. You also failed to mention that on the golf course we would be following a one way system and only bumping into others outside of my 3 ball bubble following the most wayward of shots.
    The average age of golfers in Ireland is in the 60’s I believe and NO other sport offers this cohort of the voting population the respite that we need.
    Enough is enough – common sense must win out.

  4. Dick avatar

    The problem is not with golf itself. The sport has shown itself to be completely safe. The problem lies in the outdated notion that golf is an elitist activity. The government is fearful of people driving past full golf club car parks screaming foul. This is not justice. The closure of driving ranges doesn’t even have this excuse and makes absolutely no sense.

  5. Mick F avatar
    Mick F

    The government neglected their duty of care to the citizens of this country when they allowed rugby supporters from Italy to come into this country at the start of the pandemic, even though the rugby match was cancelled. We could have been like New Zealand if they had handled it properly.

    The government neglected their duty of care to the citizens of this country when they allowed 50,000 people to come into this country over Christmas, despite being aware of the new, more infectious, variant in the UK. Ireland went from best in Europe to worst in the world due to their decisions.

    The citizens of this country have, by and large, bought into protecting the old and the vulnerable, and stuck to the restrictions. But, they are now beginning to see that they are VERY poorly served by a government who always take the easy way out, restricting ordinary citizens, but allowing those from outside the country free rein.

    The government seem to delight in using Covid to punish citizens. There is absolutely no reason that golf (or multiple other sports for that matter) should be prohibited. It is safer than walking in the park, or within the 5km limit. They are actually endangering our health by prohibiting it, as the alternatives to being out on the golf course put citizens at greater risk of catching Covid, never mind the mental health risks.

  6. John avatar

    I fully agree with the comments from John Shortt. If we want to give encouragement to the Government to open up golf (and other outdoor sports) then now is the time to email our elected representatives, using some of Johns very good comments. I have done so using the statement that as a pensioner I am no longer willing to be kept a prisoner in my home and certainly not to facilitate under 18 sport opening.
    In order to focus their attention I have personally added that I will not be voting FF or FG in the next election and would even consider a SF candidate, something I would not have considered, even slightly, before the incompetence that has been shown by the Gov in abdicating their decision making responsibilities to the CMO/NYPHET. John F

  7. Richie avatar

    Unfortunately it’s quite simple. As has been touched on above, this isn’t about how safe golf is or isn’t. Golf can be played in a way that is completely safe when it comes to COVID (as was done last summer. Keep the bar closed, no interaction with any other groups, arrive 15 mins before tee time and leave straight after, no rakes, pin stays in etc etc). As the article states, it’s a complete joke that you can go down to your local park and walk amongst hundreds if not thousands of people, but can’t go play golf in a 3 ball.

    The problem is the begrudgery. People don’t want one group being able to partake in their hobbies when they themselves can’t. This is exacerbated by the fact that golf is seen as an elitist sport.

    Politicians are not going to stick their necks on the line to give us golfers what we want, when such a decision will prove unpopular amongst the majority. Such is life.

  8. Carmel avatar

    I’m amazed that all the discussion about opening of golf and no discussion about the membership fees Which are quite expensive . The yearly fees from January to December with about 4 months of play last year and not looking good for this year until May or later and a lot of today’s ordinary members may struggle to pay such fees but really enjoy the game for health and well being . I think this needs to be looked at and clubs make some gesture of reduction to members .A lot of members have not and May not renew membership and will be a lot more damage to members health and keeping clubs open.

  9. Jerry+Gore avatar

    So sick am I of the whole pathetic incompetence of the people making the decisions which will lead to many mental problems.
    I also emailed 4 senior politicians because I was so fed up. Two replies told me nothing new.
    Thanks for the article and comments.
    BTW my real name is ‘desperate Dan’.

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