club ban Anger as golf is ruled out of bounds under Level 5 restrictions
Golf has been ruled out of bounds by the Government during the Level 5 coronavirus restrictions, prompting an angry response from frustrated players all over Ireland.
The game’s governing bodies here, the GUI and the ILGU, issued a joint statement this evening informing clubs that they had failed to achieve an exemption for golf.
“Following intensive engagement over the past 48 hours, we have been informed this afternoon by Sport Ireland that, very regrettably, golf clubs must close under the new level 5 restrictions,” the statement read.
“Essential course maintenance is permitted to continue under level 5. We have sought clarity on the issue as to whether ranges/practice facilities can remain open for exempted activities. We will update clubs on this as soon as possible.”
The news brought an end to days of speculation after news leaked on Friday night that the Government was seriously considering introducing stringent restrictions this week.
On Monday, Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced Level 5 restrictions across the State for six weeks - until December 1st - in a bid to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
Golfers in the Republic had hoped that they would be allowed to play on like their counterparts in Northern Ireland by adhering to public health guidelines.
But while those hopes were smashed today, provoking the ire of many, former European Tour professional Peter Lawrie believes the measures are a blow to many older people who use golf as a much needed social and mental health boost.
“I understand and respect the social element here, where we all have to pull together to stop the spread of the virus,” said Lawrie, who now runs Spawell Golf Academy in Templeogue.
“But there are so many people that use the driving range and golf courses as a form of exercise and as a social outlet. The majority of older people use it as a social outlet.
“I have so many people who come in to hit balls as part of their daily routine because doctors and specialists have told them it is a great form of exercise. The five-minute chat they have might be the only five-minute chat they have in the day.
“That’s who I feel sorry for. I could stay open tomorrow but would that be the right thing to do? It’s probably against rules and regulations so I am going to have to close.
“I had to ring the police station wondering what to do because I could get nothing from Sport Ireland or Golf Ireland. And they said, we would be under instructions to close you down, because you are non-essential."