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England Golf: Toughest times still to come for clubs

Jeremy Tomlinson touched on the huge spike in demand since golf returned a month ago and warned of the mistake of undervaluing the game
 

England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson said the sport had too often “sold itself short” as he reflected on a month since clubs were able to reopen following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

In his regular letter to golfers and clubs, he touched upon the surge in demand for the game and said it had been “heartening to see a value once again being placed on membership and the visitor golfer experience since we all pulled together to reopen courses and facilities on May 13”.

“England Golf exists to promote the amateur and club game and I am proud to bang the drum on our game’s behalf,” he wrote.

“But we should not make the mistake of undervaluing our game. Too often our sport has sold itself short.

“It may have been largely accidental, but the spike in recruitment over last few weeks has proved two key things – golf club membership remains relevant and affordable.

“Golf has been forced to hit the reset button, but the reboot gives everyone a chance to start afresh and carry this momentum forward.”

Tomlinson also acknowledged the struggles ahead with many income streams for clubs still limited by continuing government restrictions.

He added: “But we must also take a breath as not everything in the garden is rosy. Clubhouses remain closed, cash is tight, and I’m not naive to the prospect that the toughest times might yet lie ahead for many of our clubs.

“Reforecasting, reevaluating, replanning and, in some cases, reinventing are all potentially the order of the day as we look to maximise opportunities and stabilise finances while coming out of this crisis.”

Tomlinson noted the work that had gone into allowing fourballs to resume and wrote of the ‘best of both worlds’ policy some clubs were employing, as they set aside times for smaller groups, while also giving them the chance to get more players on the course and re-introduce guests and visitors.

On the prospect of elite tournaments taking place, which are due to begin at Woodhall Spa on July 28 with the English men’s and women’s amateur championships, Tomlinson revealed: “Just as golf clubs eagerly anticipate the day when clubhouses can safely reopen, we too need a change in lockdown regulations to allow hotels to function and our events to tee off.

“If the government’s roadmap out of lockdown remains on track, we will hopefully receive good news on that front soon…”

For the full letter, visit England Golf’s website.

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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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