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Here we go again! Golf courses in England told to close for third lockdown

As new restrictions are announced by the prime minister, England's golf clubs are being told they must once again shut their courses until further notice
 

Once again we’re all watching prime minister Boris Johnson on the TV and asking ourselves: “Can we play golf in new lockdown?”

And it’s bad news, I’m afraid, as golf courses in England have been told to shut again after Johnson once more put the nation under new restrictions.

Instructing people they must stay at home, government guidance stated that “outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close”.

It’s the third time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that golf clubs and facilities have been forced to lock the gates. They were closed for nearly two months during the first national lockdown in March and then again for nearly four weeks during November and the start of December last year.

The new restrictions will last until at least mid-February with people allowed to leave home once a day for exercise – but “not for the purpose of recreation or leisure”.

And while golf has marketed itself effectively as a socially distanced sport, documents released on the Government’s website quickly dashed any hopes it could continue.

In a document outlining what people can and can’t do during the lockdown, the Government stated exercise can be taken “by yourself, with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with one person from another household in a public outdoor space”.

But while those places include parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens, the grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds, there is no place for golf.

In a later section on sports and physical activity, the document added: “Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed.

“Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close.

“Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.”

Reacting to the news, a statement from industry bodies including the Professional Golfers’ Association and England Golf said: “The UK Government has announced a complete lockdown of England with immediate effect.

“This means everyone must work from home where possible, except for critical workers, and it will supersede all local restrictions currently in place.

“Golf clubs, golf facilities – both indoor and outdoor – and driving ranges will be required to close during this full lockdown. As such, coaching will not be permitted.

“Golf retailers will be able to operate a click-and-collect service where goods are pre-ordered and either collected off the premises or delivered.

“The PGA – as part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, along with other leading industry bodies – is extremely disappointed with the news, having made a strong case in recent months to keep golf open during the national lockdowns and in the regional tiers system.

“It is with great regret that we share this news with you but please be assured that we will continue to make the case for golf to reopen whenever possible.”

What do you think of the Government’s decision? Is it right move, or should golf courses have stayed open? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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