The governing body's chief explains why closing courses was the correct decision and the processes in place for when golf does eventually reopen

England Golf’s call to close courses has “had a profound effect on our game”, said chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson, but “remains the correct and responsible decision during a global pandemic”.

In a letter on the governing body’s website, he also outlined how golf’s return would be guided by a simple ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ message.

Golf courses have been closed since March 23. When the Government announced a lockdown was to come into effect to stem the tide of coronavirus, England Golf said clubs and courses must shut their doors.

Tomlinson acknowledged the effect that decision had had on the game. “This was not a call we took pleasure in making – however, it remains the correct and responsible decision during a global pandemic and at a time of national emergency,” he wrote.

He also explained the work that had been going on, much of it “quietly behind the scenes”, to champion golf’s cause, while respecting wider public health concerns.

Tomlinson said England Golf had made their view clear to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the issue of public access to golf course land, while they had also lobbied government “on the rateable value loophole that has prevented golf clubs potentially accessing funds”.

England Golf

Turning to the eventual return of the sport, the chief executive said his organisation would “continue to work in support of government and with them to move towards towards that day.

“When golf does return, this great game of ours must be ready to do so in an organised and responsible manner.”

He explained the governing body would soon be providing clubs with a series of guides to “plan the final steps on the journey back to playing the game”.

“While we cannot yet circle a date in the diary, it is right to put in place a proper framework to allow golfers to tee it up at the appropriate time and with the necessary infrastructure already in place,” he said.

That would cover golfer communications, staff and volunteers, playing the game and facility and course management – among other areas.

“It is realistic for golf clubs to expect restrictions on opening of facilities, requirements for social distancing and adaptations to the usual playing etiquette even after any easing of lockdown,” Tomlinson wrote.

“Restarting the game on this basis will be a challenge. There is a key responsibility to balance the issue of public health while at the same time ensuring the vitality of our sport.

“Golf will play a prominent role in the nation’s sporting recovery – when the time is right.

“By working together, we can make sure this happens with our affiliated clubs and counties at the heart of the matter.”

What do you think of England Golf’s statement. Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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