Comment: "Closure of munis excludes large parts of society"

Golf News

I welcome any facility that puts the public at ease on arrival

I wonder how many municipal courses will be left in 10 years’ time. It’s a familiar story up and down the country – cash-stretched councils faced with budget cuts concluding that assets of potentially prime real estate would offer better value to the taxpayer if sold to developers and converted into cash.

I’m sure you could offer your own example of a public course near you that is no more and it concerns me greatly that their mass closure is excluding large parts of society from trying the game for the first time.

Right now, there are plenty enough golf facilities around, but not enough that are welcoming to the millions who have never stepped foot on a golf course and, frankly, have little interest in the finer points of etiquette and traditions.

From personal experience, the lowest barrier to playing golf when I was growing up came at the Leeds munis. I can still vividly remember my first ever par at what was then the 16th at Gotts Park. Back then (the mid-1980s) on a Saturday morning punters used to queue up from 5am to put their ball in the chute and then enjoy some breakfast until it was their turn to tee off.

From memory, I think 18 holes cost something like 80p for me and £2 for my dad.

People could and did carry their clubs in a Morrison’s bag and you wore whatever you wanted. I think that’s important, and it made people relaxed. As you improved and got more serious then many of us graduated on to a private club. Others remained happy with what the munis offered – and all power to them.

Given that so much of golf at clubs up and down the UK (and especially England) boils down to a bizarre and inconsistent set of customs that really have little place in the 21st century I welcome any facility that puts the public at ease on arrival and helps them give this great game a try.

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Europe’s convincing win at the EurAsia Cup highlighted our strength in depth. With the likes of Sullivan, Fitzpatrick, Willett, Lowry, Wood and Broberg all debutants in the making, the stalwart likes of Westwood, Donald, Poulter and McDowell are going to have to show some serious form if they are to make Clarke’s team.

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