GOLFERS are being urged to sign a petition to ensure the Government allows courses to stay open.
The UK Golf Federation has launched a petition urging the Government to ‘Keep Golf Open’ during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
Some two million people play golf every week – and while many golf clubs’ weekday regulars are senior golfers who the Government are looking to increasingly self-isolate, there are many under 70.
The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance was quizzed told a House of Commons Health Select Committee hearing on Tuesday, it was perfectly safe to play golf – providing certain precautions were taken – such as not taking the flag out when putting.
MP Dean Russell asked Sir Patrick: “If someone wants to play golf, can they still do that if they are not close together?”
The science expert, who has been one of a team advising Government ministers and the Prime Minister on how to contain the COVID-19 virus, said: “It is OK – if you keep a distance.
“We’re not asking everyone to be completely isolated. The specific advice is to avoid close contact.
“A walk is OK if you keep a distance.”
Golf UK Federation chief executive Doug Poole is worried if his members, who own nearly 600 proprietary clubs across the UK, are forced to close their courses as well as their clubhouses, many will face suffer serious financial losses, and in some cases, even bankruptcy.
Mr Poole told Golf South after the launch of the Keep Golf Open petition: “We believe golf is one of the safest places in our current environment as it requires no person-to-person contact.
“You have the ability to change in the car park, there is no reason to take the flag out these days and likely you can always remain two metres apart from your playing partners.
“We hope this petition will be the catalyst in helping members, golfers, golf club employees, managers, and all those in our industry share our message to the government and the country to #KeepGolfOpen and emerge stronger.
“We cannot do this alone, which is why we need your help!
“A nationwide effort is required for all golfers to share this petition with everyone who loves this great game.
“We are at such a critical and pivotal time and we need your support and care more than ever.
“We want to update you with our plans and how we aim to not only survive but thrive in this situation, and also provide some value to ensure your safety.
Mr Poole added: “Please act urgently and share the petition by forwarding with your friends, family and fellow golfers so we can #KeepGolfOpen!”
•To sign the Keep Golf Open petition, click here
US expert backing Keep Golf Open
THE advice of Sir Patrick Vallance has also been backed up by a leading infectious disease epidemiologist in the USA.
Dr Catherine Troisi, from the University of Texas Health Science Centre, said: “Golf as it’s normally played – outdoors, with natural social-distancing built in – would be fairly safe.
‘I would say that in the actual playing of golf, you’re not at much risk.
“Sunlight and other environmental conditions can kill viruses like this, so it is probable that that is true for this novel coronavirus, as well.
“Also, relieving stress by playing golf outdoors helps your immune system.
“Physical activity boosts your immune system, so for both mental and physical health it’s good to get activity however you can get it without putting yourself at risk.”
How to play golf as safely as possible
GOLF South is publishing a list of tips drawn up by golf PR specialist Andy Hiseman – from a number of best practices currently spreading around clubs in the UK – on how to play the game without exposing yourself un-necessarily to the coronavirus.
PLAYER & ON-COURSE BEHAVIOUR
•Always stay two paces away from other players
•The club should remove all bunker rakes – players should smooth sand with their feet
•Players should putt with the flagstick in
•Only pick the ball out of the hole with a gloved hand
•Change shoes in car park and come ready to play – no changing clothes before or after your round
•On the first tee and 18th green give the thumbs-up – don’t shake hands, or even fist or elbow bump
•Bring your own refreshments – the bar/restaurant will be closed
•Do not use golf ball-washers
•No buggies allowed
•No push-trolley rentals allowed – either carry your bag, or use your own trolley
ADVICE FOR CLUBS & PRO SHOPS
•Close food and bar service completely
•Close the clubhouse apart from toilet facilities
•Prop open all internal doors en route to the toilets
•Remove all hand towels – replace with paper towels
•Provide alcohol hand-gels in all toilets
•PGA pros should give non-contact lessons ie stay two paces apart
•No group lessons or clinics
•Close indoor simulators and the driving range
If your club has come up with any interesting ways of ensure there is less risk from COVID-19 at your golf club, email email@example.com