All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf admits defeat in battle to keep courses open

General view as players make their way around the course during day one of The Scottish Championship  - PA
General view as players make their way around the course during day one of The Scottish Championship - PA

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPGG) has admitted defeat in its bid to keep courses open during the upcoming lockdown in England.

The APPGG wrote to Boris Johnson on behalf of England Golf, the PGA, the R&A and other leading groups from the industry to make the case for golf to be exempt from tightened restrictions which come into force from Thursday.

However, the group's chair, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, now believes there is "no more that can be done" to persuade the Government to change its position and England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has written to the organisation's members to confirm the news.

Tomlinson wrote: "It is with a feeling of deep regret that we must now inform all affiliated golf clubs and driving ranges that they should prepare to close from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December 2020.

"Pending a vote today [Wednesday] in the House of Commons, the UK government has confirmed these closures are required as part of increased national lockdown measures designed to suppress the spread of Covid-19, save lives and protect the NHS.

"England Golf, as the governing body for the amateur game and alongside our colleagues in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, respectfully, but vigorously challenged government to argue the case for golf courses to remain open.

"As an open-air sport played by limited numbers in a vast outdoor setting which naturally lends itself to social distancing, we lobbied that golf should continue to be played in accordance with our government-approved 'Play Safe, Stay Safe' framework.

"With the Prime Minister actively encouraging family households and up to two individuals from different households to exercise in the open air without limit, we strongly believe that golf courses should have remained open as an extension to recreation even if it was necessary to close clubhouses and professional shops.

"Participants would have been able to enjoy the obvious physical rewards of playing the game, but perhaps more importantly, the benefits to their mental health at a time of disruption to normal life.

"The government engaged in detailed conversation, but has decided not to amend its original guidance and we would ask all clubs and golfers to respect the legislation that is set to come into force overnight."