THE Keep Golf Open petition launched by the UK Golf Federation – which gained more than 21,500 signatures in just seven days – has been removed.
The decision followed UK Government announcement warning people to stay at home and avoid all social gatherings, on Monday, as the spread of the coronavirus showed no sign of slowing.
UK Golf Federation chief executive Doug Poole said: “Our intention was to highlight how golf is one of the rare sports which can be played safely during the COVID-19 outbreak – to promote golf’s many positive benefits for your health and wellbeing – and to do what we could to help thousands of golf clubs and related businesses to remain trading safely during this unprecedented time.
“However, this is no longer a time for campaigning. Instead it is a time for us all to follow the new government advice to stay indoors, act responsibly, and minimise the spread of COVID-19.
“If you voted in the petition and shared it with friends, you have our thanks.
“The overwhelmingly generous support which the petition received, both from golfers and from all corners of the golf industry itself, emphasises the valuable role which our much-loved sport plays in millions of lives in the UK.
“But for now, please stay indoors, stick to the new rules which are there to keep us all as safe as possible.”
The petition was launched a week ago after the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the House of Commons Health Select Committee he thought golf was a good and “safe” form of exercise.
Sir Patrick said as long as players observed social distancing advice and took simple hygiene precautions both on and off the course, there was no need for golf courses to shut.
England Golf and the governing bodies for Scotland, Wales and Ireland issued advice to the near-3,000 clubs in the UK and Ireland on Tuesday, confirming that all golf clubs, courses and driving ranges should close immediately.
Only greenkeeping staff have been exempted as essential workers in the industry to carry on basic maintenance and ensure security.
Club secretaries and managers are left with the job of trying to claim business rate relief and apply for government support for those companies forced to lay off staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But many PGA professionals face a more uncertain future as the majority are self-employed – and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has yet to confirm details of a proposed scheme that matches the fund paying up to 80 per cent of workers’ wages, up to a limit of £2,500 a month.
Mr Poole added: “Good luck during these unpredictable times and we’ll see you on the golf course again soon.
The PGA has a dedicated page on its website to help members and golf clubs keep up to date with the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Irish Government follows UK lead and closes all golf facilities
THE Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union issued advice to close all golf facilities in the Republic of Ireland, late on Tuesday afternoon, after the Eire Government followed the UK’s lead on closing all golf facilities.
A GUI spokesman said: “Following the recent announcements by the UK and Irish Governments in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the GUI and ILGU recommend that all golf clubs, practice facilities and courses across the island close with immediate effect until April 19.
“You will appreciate that this is a very fluid situation with new developments almost daily.
“We will continue to liaise with the appropriate authorities, and will ensure that our clubs are kept informed as to recommended best practice at all times.”