Over the weekend, there were a number of instances reported across the UK where golfers had decided that the temptation was just too much, and that they had to ignore the lockdown rules and get out on the course for a few holes.
Last Tuesday evening, Boris Johnson ordered a 'lockdown' across the UK, prohibiting people from going outdoors except to shop for essentials or for one hour of exercise per day. Following this, England Golf released statement to golf clubs and members which read:
Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency.
Despite this, over the weekend we saw a number of different reports which suggested that some golfers were simply ignoring the rules laid out by the government and golfing bodies, and continuing to play golf.
Roger Hyder, General Manager of Canterbury Golf Club, commented on Twitter that he has already heard of two instances of people ignoring the rules over the weekend. Firstly, whilst walking to his son's club for a security check he spotted two non-members playing up the ninth hole.
When questioning them, they claimed that they believed the 'course to be open' having seen a sign from the main road.
Clearly they didn't see the signs around the golf club which stated that the course was shut, nor did they notice that the tee markers and flags had been removed...
A shocking report from Southend-based Echo News also details how local councillor Stephen Aylen has been turning away at least 20 chancers every day from Belfairs Golf Club, leading to some aggressive confrontations.
I have tried to tell them they shouldn't be playing and they always just start shouting, saying they are only playing a few holes and what harm could it do. Even though I try to talk to them from a distance, I do sometimes fear for my safety. I am an elected official and I have a duty of care to protect residents.
There have been similar issues in Scotland too, as reported by Martin Dempster in The Scotsman on Monday. He had spoken Gary Laing, Captain at Craigmillar Park Golf Club in Edinburgh, who told him that two non-members were spotted playing over the weekend:
Whilst quite rude, the two individuals dismissed the fact that the course is closed and insisted on their intention to keep playing, despite being reminded of the government guidance.
I have had a discussion with Police Scotland this morning and they have confirmed that instances where golfers are playing golf on a golf course contravenes the guidance issued on social distancing and approved exercise types. That being the case, I asked if they would attend the course and take appropriate action if notified.
With similar stories being shared from other golf clubs in Edinburgh, as well as in Birmingham and St Enodoc in Cornwall, it is clear that the message is simply not getting through to some people. Either that, or some golfers think that they are above the measures being set out by their government.
The better we adhere to the lockdown guidelines, the sooner the rates of infection will start to slow and the less strain placed on the NHS, increasing our chances of getting back to some form of normality quicker.
Your round of golf is NOT as important as other people's lives. It can wait a few weeks.
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