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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Golf resumes across England. Are we next?

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Social media feeds were a tough watch yesterday; the sight of kitted out golfers across the UK enjoying the spring sunshine while the rest of us did laps of the local park in the hope that Ireland will follow suit.

There’s been a major easing of England’s restrictions with team sports set to resume on Monday as well as friends and family being permitted to meet outdoors in groups of up to six from two households.

Ireland will learn its fate later today [Tuesday] but anyone expecting the reins to be loosened significantly will likely be in for a shock after Nphet recommended a “very cautious” approach to any potential easing of restrictions by Government.

With the Easter holidays in full swing, there is a reluctance to give anything the green light, let alone golf, with a staged easing of restrictions preferred, likely meaning the earliest realistic date for golf’s return in the ROI is April 12th.

That will come as another bitter blow to the industry and a nation of golfers who have been denied access to their courses for the best part of six months – the longest shutdown anywhere on Earth.

Why have they been closed for such an extended period of time? Well, the germaphobes at Nphet HQ will tell you that there’s a global pandemic that renders no activity safe, but I wonder how many of them teed up last May for a game of golf and thought ‘jaysus, I don’t think I’ll come out of this round alive’?

I think back on that glorious May day where I booked my tee-time online, hopped in my car, drove to the golf club with the windows up, changed my shoes in the carpark and arrived on the first tee to find my two other playing partners in a 200-plus acre field. For the rest of the day, I didn’t see a group ahead of me, or behind me. I didn’t tough a flag, there were no rakes in the bunkers, there was no danger of getting sick. I hopped in my car after the round and drove home, a healthy and happy man of both mind and body.

The next day I went to the Phoenix Park and I thought I’d missed the memo about the Pope visiting.

Now, I understand that there’s an obligation to be balanced as a journalist, to try and take your own opinion out of it and be impartial, and maybe it’s the Covid-fatigue talking or the growing pain in my hole but I’m struggling for impartiality on this one. The way I see it, there’s millions of Irish people sitting on one side of a seesaw losing the will to live in their efforts to preserve life, and there’s a few supposed leaders at the other end with their feet dangling and their heads firmly caught in the clouds after fumbling the response to this pandemic for over a year now.

So yeah, it’s hard to be impartial, harder still to keep the faith, particularly when a few minor exceptions to lockdown restrictions could make the world of difference.

But there’s hope, I think. After all, we pay our politicians handsomely to think critically and broadly. I’ve no doubt that if Nphet were in charge, we’d remain in level 5 for the rest of this year and beyond. But they’re not in charge, and tonight the Government have a chance to restore the faith. That doesn’t mean signing off on a reckless free-for-all, rather evaluating the merits of certain pursuits over others and not lumping everything together in this relentless punishment of a population that deserves better.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. You have captured the mood of all golfers and most fair minded people. Non -golfers keep asking me why are we not playing golf ?? , safer that the supermarket as we all know.
    We all listen to the news and a balanced approach to getting our lives back on track is required by government. As a sports fan , if it is safe to commence inter county GAA training it is surely safe to play golf. Most of us ordinary golfers will only see each other on the tee and the green, the rest of the time spend wondering why we can’t find the fairway anymore !!

  2. Well said. Some golf clubs have way marked walking trails and it’s funny that you can walk around the golf course but can’t play golf. You see groups of people walking around town or in a park closely packed together but with golf no more than four people can play together at any one time and you stay more than 2m apart all the time. You can’t touch the flags, rake bunkers or use the air pressure cleaner and the club house restaurant is closed. It’s far riskier going to the supermarket or walking around town. And the 5km rule for exercise is stupid, people living down the country may only have a dangerous road to walk on and people in towns are on top of each other.

  3. A good read John but of course you’re talking to the converted.
    We’ve all had plenty of time to reflect & I must admit I find it difficult to forgive golf Ireland/gui for their total incompetence in their pathetic efforts in putting forward a coherent argument, as you have just done!
    They appear to be untouchable & even unaccountable to the people who pay their salaries – us, the ordinary golf club member who have no choice in paying the compulsory levy to them.
    The collective beats the individual & I sincerely hope golf clubs throughout the country take golf Ireland to task for their absolute ineptitude in supporting them over the past 12 months. Time for an alternative way forward .
    Shame on you golf Ireland!!

  4. Judging by the latest news, we won’t be back until April 26th. So you can meet another household outdoors from 12th April, but golf only allowed 2 week’s later? Ridiculous

  5. Another good piece of writing John you sound a bit disheartened you need to come out here for an extended holiday

  6. We are back in 4 weeks time and the government expect us to be delighted with this but at the end of the day golf-wise they announced another 4 week shut down. Stupid decision that makes no sense. Golf Ireland make a bad job of representing us ok but what and who are sport Ireland. They should be called No Sport Ireland.

  7. Excellent piece John. You’re the only journalist who seems willing to tell it as it is. Lockdowns are supposedly to prevent us infecting one another. It shows how out of touch those NPHET and political people are with the general public. The safety argument falls flat on its arse every time one goes to a public park compared with golf. And yes, it IS time we all withheld our levies to Golf Ireland who have no interest in the ordinary club golfer. They haven’t responded to any of the justified criticisms because they know they have no answer.

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