Golfing unions respond to course closures

It looks as though both the men's and ladies unions have now reluctantly accepted their closure

Brian Lowry

Reporter:

Brian Lowry

Golfing unions respond to course closures

Golf courses have been forced to close again

The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golfing union have released a joint statement relating to the closure of all golf courses as part of the level 5 restrictions put in place earlier this week.

While they argued against the closure, it looks as if they have now accepted the decision. Golf clubs were one of many badly hit by the move to level 5 on Wednesday night and there closure was met with a variety of reaction from golfers including dismay, anger and confusion.

The GUI and ILGU did engage with Sport Ireland for talks that lasted two days but it all fell on deaf ears and they were included in the closure.

While the statement confirms that the golf clubs will close, the door seems to be left open to practice facilities for kids under the age of 18 while adhering to protocols set out for social distancing and numbers taking part.

The statement from the GUI and ILGU reads as follows;

"Over the past number of days and weeks , the GUI and ILGU have engaged in detailed and extensive discussions with the relevant Government departments and agencies in relation to Level 5 restrictions, and their impact on golf.

"Since the start of the pandemic in Ireland, both governing bodies have fully endorsed the public health advice of the Irish Government and engaged extensively and successfully with government to ensure an early and safe return for golf.​


"We have consistently highlighted the health and mental health benefits of golf and the strong compliance with the safety protocols which has ensured that our sport has been a safe outlet for people of all ages over the past five months . We have also highlighted the substantial employment in the sector and the benefits of golf to the Irish economy

"The Government has decided however, that Level 5 restrictions mean that all sports facilities, golf included must close. The decision is one that we regret, but also accept. 

"Following receipt of guidance from government on Thursday evening,  the guidance on Level 5 is clear, with the risk to public health meaning that individuals are asked to stay at home, with certain exceptions.

"As they are not recognised as essential services, the decision of Government is that all sports facilities must close in the Level 5 restrictions. This includes both indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

"It is permitted to open sports facilities for training sessions and scheduled matches for the exempted categories of sport, i.e. high performance and professional.

"It will also be permitted to open outdoor sports facilities for structured training sessions by school aged children, i.e. those aged 18 years and younger, in pods of no more than 15, under the supervision of designated coaches and in compliance with approved COVID-19 protocols and all relevant public health guidance.

"During these training sessions it will only be permitted for participants and relevant coaching and support personnel to be present. In the case of children's sport, parents will be permitted to attend for child safeguarding purposes, however they will be required to comply with social distancing and other public health advice.

"The restrictions applicable in Level 5 are available in full here: https://www.sportireland.ie/news/return-to-sport-expert-group-issues-guidance-to-sports-sector

"While it is acknowledged that golf has demonstrated itself to be a safe sport during the pandemic, the wider public health guidance must be adhered to and we encourage all golf clubs and golfers to comply fully with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team and Government at this time.

"The Unions acknowledge the efforts of all affiliated golf clubs throughout the year and would like to thank the volunteers, staff and members of all golf clubs for their work in ensuring our sport is played in a safe and responsible manner. 

"In the meantime we will continue to engage with the relevant government authorities and agencies with a view to golf courses reopening as soon as possible."