A petition asking for golf clubs to be removed from a list of venues to shut due to Covid-19 has been rejected by the Government despite gaining over 250,000 signatures.
An open letter sent to all golf clubs from England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf in England, on November 4, asked for all clubs to respect the legislation despite intense lobbying.
In the letter, England Golf chief executive Jerry Tomlinson said: “We strongly believe that golf courses should have remained open as an extension to recreation even if it was necessary to close clubhouses and professional shops.”
The petition, which closed on 257,266 signatures in 48 hours, has been supported by England Golf and many golf professionals, including former World No.1 Lee Westwood.
However, Tomlinson said: “The Government engaged in detailed conversation, but has decided not to amend its original guidance.”
Therefore, from November 5 to December 2, all golf clubs will remain shut in compliance with newly imposed restrictions during the second lockdown.
Kingston Golf Clubs
All local golf clubs in and around Kingston have been impacted by the decision, including Hampton Court Palace Golf Club in Kingston and Surbiton Golf Club in Chessington.
Dave Harris, general manager of Hampton Court Palace Golf Club, said that golf clubs should be exempt as they are able to safely operate whilst providing significant health benefits.
“Like a lot of businesses, it stops us being able to operate, and income falls dramatically.
“Staff, members and customers become uncertain of the future and this can cause more issues with general morale being low and it can even affect peoples health,” he said.
Clint Whittaker, general manager of Surbiton Golf Club, said that although he understood the Government’s reasons, it seemed strange that golf, being one of the first sports to initially return, has not been allowed to continue.
“As you can imagine, members are disappointed,” he said.
“Golf clubs were able to demonstrate that golf could be enjoyed, in a Covid safe way with a number of safety protocols implemented, including booked tee times for all players and strict regulations about pre and post round activities.”
Whittaker said the petition was a good initiative, and that the number of signatures reflects the benefits that playing golf can have during these unknown times.