Jeremy Tomlinson has written to Boris Johnson to explain why golf should play a key role in the 'healing process for our country'

England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has told Boris Johnson he sees “no reason why golf can’t be one of the first sports to return” as the prime minister prepares to unveil his roadmap out of lockdown.

In an open letter to Johnson, Tomlinson says golf is “exceptionally well placed to play a positive role in this first phase of recovery and should be given that opportunity by government”.

Clubs in England have been closed since January 5 as the nation entered a third lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

Tomlinson argued for the sport to stay open during that period and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf produced an updated report, framed by scientific advice, that claimed the sport could be played safely during lockdown.

Now, with the government excepted to reveal its plans to loosen lockdown on February 22, Tomlinson’s letter says golf could help the country bounce back “physically and mentally” from the turmoil of the last few months.

He writes: “England Golf has been clear from the start – golf is a sport played safely in the open air with social distancing part and parcel of every round. With the introduction of our Play Safe, Stay Safe protocols after the first lockdown, we made our sport even more secure.

“I’m sure you will be aware that many golfers have already contacted their own MPs to make this point and no doubt many more will reinforce this view by voicing their support for an expedient, safe return to playing golf in the days ahead.

“For in excess of two million golfers in England, the mental and physical health benefits of playing our sport can be clearly documented. This isn’t anecdotal, this is based on solid scientific data.

“The fact that these benefits can be enjoyed without presenting any undue risk to wider public health is hugely significant and this point has been stressed again in recent correspondence with government.”

Tomlinson adds: “Our golfing community has struggled without access to the game they love. For many, the mental hardships have been tougher to endure than the physical ones.

“Like all sports, we have clubs navigating through the economic problems of lockdown, the uncertainty of a re-start date, the questions from furloughed staff about jobs, the queries from members about annual subscriptions.

“These have been tough times that none of us want to visit again. We are all trying to keep positive through what we hope is the final stage of lockdown, remaining optimistic that the “follow the science” news remains upbeat.

“Importantly, we see no reason why golf can’t be one of the first sports to return, to help with the healing process for our country, and to ensure that the sun can once again shine on us all through the 2021 season.”

In his regular coronavirus briefing on Monday afternoon, Johnson addressed speculation about what might be allowed as lockdown was eased.

That has included possible dates for the return of golf. But the PM said: “These decisions we will take in the course of this week, but they are not yet taken. I would just humbly advise anybody reading accounts of what we’re going to do, or hearing about accounts of what we’re going to do at such and such a time in the course of the next few months, to take them with a pinch of salt, folks.

“This is still speculation. When I explain on the 22nd [February] what we are going to do you will be hearing it directly from me.”

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

What do you think of Tomlinson’s letter? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

Subscribe to NCG