‘Why can you go for a walk but not play golf?’

Golf club managers whose venues have closed due to coronavirus restrictions are continuing to state how disappointed and frustrated they are by the decision.

Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club general manager Andy Dennis said the facility is a ‘Covid-safe’ environment for members.

“It’s frustrating when you as an individual can meet another person from outside your household for a walk, but you can’t play the game of golf in that situation,” he told Echosport.

“We’ve also, as a sport, individuals and a club, got to be aware that cases are rising and people are losing their lives through this pandemic.

“We do have to be seen to be acting in the right way. If the government are saying that’s the best thing for it, then obviously Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club supports the decision.

“I feel at Bridport we’re pretty Covid-secure. There’s been no confirmed cases at the club, even through last year.”

But Dennis wants clarification on the ruling, adding: “The government have their reasons.

“Sadly, as a golf club and through our national governing body we haven’t actually had any full clarification why the government have decided to stop golf.

“That’s the frustrating part for our industry. We don’t share clubs, luggage. Players play at 10-minute intervals and don’t see anyone else.

“It’s all booked online, there’s no reason to have any interaction with any members of staff.

“It can be done as two people together, the full Track and Trace system – it’s pretty much watertight.”

Weymouth Golf Club president Colin Huckle shared his belief that golfers could “play safely”.

He said: “Members are frustrated that they can go for a walk but cannot play golf – which, to be honest, is a walk in the fresh air.

Weymouth Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“We appreciate the clubhouse has to be closed down but with our booking system, members can play safely in pairs once they arrive at the course.

“And they can ensure social distancing is observed.

“We have a Covid-secure site and since the first lockdown we have stringent safety measures in place from previous lockdown experience.”

Weymouth club captain David Picton added: “It is paramount that this deadly Covid-19 virus is brought under control.

“If it means that golf courses are closed and we can’t play golf, then we have to accept. These are unprecedented times. Times that frustrate us all.

“It’s not the playing of the game where the problem lies, as you can safely social distance on the course.

“It’s before and after the game that is the danger, where players seem to gather in groups with no social distancing. We need to stay safe and virus free. We need to beat this.”

Resident professional at Came Down, Nick Rodgers, said rules before the shutdown were strictly enforced.

“It’s disappointing. You can regurgitate the usual lines about social distance,” he said.

“As a club, we’ve got all the Covid precautions in place. We consider it a very safe environment for members to play.

“Before lockdown we didn’t have any guests or visitors – it was limited to members.

“There were strict rules on the time they could arrive. The clubhouse was closed apart from toilet access.

“People would come dressed in their golf clothes, change in the car park and play. Unfortunately, it’s been stopped now.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. I would hope when there is a change on the horizon that golf, like last time, will be one of the first things to return.

“For a lot of our members it’s their predominant form of exercise. Also, in terms of mental health there’s a lot of people that miss that side of it.”

While admitting his regret over the lockdown, fellow pro Michael Watson at Wessex Golf Centre insists the measure is warranted.

“It’s probably sensible for a point,” he said. “While it’s so bad we have to be careful and safety is paramount.

“It’s quite a safe sport out and about. For me personally there’s no competition and I can’t teach – all things have come to a grinding halt.

“It’s very difficult to try and get through the winter. You’re obviously trying to prepare yourself because when you do compete you’re unable to get game ready.

“It just takes longer, whenever we start back up, to get back to the (professional) level.

“With the new strain, while the numbers are so bad, I’m quite happy for them to keep everyone safe and sound.

“Once things start to improve, I would expect golf to come back fairly quickly.

“Hopefully the schedule won’t be too decimated like last summer and I’ll be able to get back out competing, which I have done for so many years – it’s part of my DNA.”

Meanwhile, Bridport and Charminster have reported a surge in players – as Charminster committee member Adrian Short explains.

Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“A lot of people play who are not club members,” he said.

“After the first lockdown was eased, the impression was that the club did extremely well because there were a lot more playing than normally did.

“Golf has benefitted quite a bit post-lockdown because people saw that as an open-air activity and possibly people who had played before might’ve returned to the game.

“Charminster being a small club you could nearly always go up there and play, whereas Weymouth and Came Down, before lockdown, you had to book tees.

“If restrictions are eased again, there will be quite a flood of people wanting to get out.”

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