Golfers need to appreciate the work happening “against an incredibly challenging backdrop” to get courses ready for reopening in England.
That’s the view of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, who are advising players on what to expect when the sport finally returns from lockdown in the country on March 29.
After prime minister Boris Johnson set out his roadmap to start easing the nation out of restrictions last month, the group said meetings had focused on the “sport’s readiness to open up after what has been a very wet winter that followed six months of intense use for many courses”.
The APPGG said: “So, while golf’s return will bring a welcome boost to the sector, it is important that players have an appreciation of the level of work going on behind the scenes to make courses playable, against an incredibly challenging backdrop.”
North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, the group’s chairman, added it would be “great” if players could remember the hard work that’s been put in by greenkeepers, club managers, and all golf staff when they tee up once again at the end of the month.
“When lockdowns were first mooted, we worked quickly to ensure greenkeepers were able to complete essential maintenance on their courses,” he said.
“That was a critical decision for the sport as it ensured courses were playable immediately or very soon after restrictions were eased. Not only that, but courses saw significant increase in rounds played so they had to be in the best possible condition to stand up to much higher wear and tear.
“On average courses in the UK experienced an additional 1,000 rounds per month for the six months after they first reopened.
“The current lockdown has coincided with the period when greenkeepers would normally protect and prepare greens ready for the coming year. In speaking with the likes of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, the Golf Club Managers’ Association, the UK Golf Federation, and England Golf, as well as the other bodies involved in the APPG, it is clear they all are continually working as hard as possible to maintain courses, clubs and other facilities as we all wait for normality to return.
“We need to be mindful though that no two clubs are alike and for a wide variety of reasons, some have been able to retain more staff than others. They have also had to contend with the bad weather that winter brings against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has drastically cut revenue and often led to members of the team being placed on furlough, so unable to help prepare the course.
“I have no doubt that all golf club teams will be working flat out to present a welcoming, enjoyable playing experience and I’m sure golfers will appreciate the extraordinarily hard work that has taken place to enable them to get back out on the fairways this spring.
“However, it is important ahead of the return that every club manages its own members’ expectations when it comes to the pressure on things like tee time availability and that many courses will likely need a bit of breathing space to allow them to return to their peak condition.
“When stepping out on to that first tee again, it would be great if we all took the time to remember the key role greenkeepers have played throughout the pandemic and thank them, club managers, and all staff for their dedication to their jobs which will allow players back again in what I’m sure will be record numbers.”
What do you think of the APPGG’s comments? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.
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