Can you play golf in lockdown and are courses open?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a number of more stringent measures tackle the pandemic to start on Thursday

Tom Kershaw
Friday 06 November 2020 12:01 GMT
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Golf courses in England have been forced to close after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new lockdown measures were brought into effect on Thursday.

Both courses and driving ranges are among the non-essential businesses and venues which will be forced to shut until at least 2 December.

Golf’s governing bodies issued statements confirming that they were seeking further clarity from the government following the Prime Minister’s speech last Saturday. However, a statement on the government’s website confirms that restrictions designed “to reduce social contact” do include golf courses. 

“Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks," read the government’s list of activities which will be forced to pause.

It is a devastating blow for the golf industry, which had received a huge boom in participation over the summer, and a petition to exempt golf courses has already passed 250,000 signatures.

In a statement, England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson promised to “challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses".

“Having digested the Prime Minister’s statement to the nation on Saturday night and read the guidance which followed, there is an element of confusion around the government’s stated intention to close down golf courses and facilities from Thursday 5 November,” he wrote.

“As a result of this, and with the health of the nation very much at the heart of my thinking, I would like to make clear England Golf’s intention to respectfully challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses. We will do so utilising all in our network – MPs, colleagues, media and friends – to make sure we are heard by government.”

But England Golf confirmed on Wednesday that they had accepted defeat in their attempt to keep golf courses open, and announced the full closure of all courses and ranges from Thursday.

“It is with a feeling of deep regret that we must now inform all affiliated golf clubs and driving ranges that they should prepare to close from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December 2020,” Tomlinson said in an open letter.

"Pending a vote today in the House of Commons, the UK government has confirmed these closures are required as part of increased national lockdown measures designed to suppress the spread of Covid-19, save lives and protect the NHS.

"England Golf, as the governing body for the amateur game and alongside our colleagues in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, respectfully, but vigorously challenged government to argue the case for golf courses to remain open.

"The government engaged in detailed conversation, but has decided not to amend its original guidance and we would ask all clubs and golfers to respect the legislation that is set to come into force overnight.

“England Golf staff remain available to support golfers, clubs and counties throughout this period of temporary closure.”

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