While a London-based newspaper looked into ways to alleviate foot traffic in urban parks by opening the country’s golf courses to walkers, Sir Nick Faldo urged a return to play. A pair of historic UK courses—St Idloes Golf Club in Wales and Nairn Dunbar Golf Club in Scotland—have requested financial help during the pandemic, with St Idloes raising $18,000 through a GoFundMe drive and Nairn Dunbar making a special appeal for membership retention and recruitment.
The Times newspaper of London carriedan analysis of what legislation that would force golf courses across the United Kingdom to be open to the public during the coronavirus lockdown would mean, The Golf Business reported. The analysis was done after several politicians called on golf courses to allow walkers to use them during the lockdown, to ease the burden on other areas, such as urban parks, where social distancing guidelines have been breached due to large numbers of people using them.
The Times states that opening all 3,087 of Britain’s golf courses would give an extra million people easy access to a green space, The Golf Business reported.
“These people live in urban areas without nearby public parks or playing fields, but within 1,640 feet of a golf course,” the report states. “There are about 481,000 acres of public green space in Britain. Opening up all golf courses, which take up 311,000 acres, would increase that by another two-thirds. In the unlikely event that every Briton took to the nation’s golf courses simultaneously and were evenly spaced, each would have nearly 210 square feet in which to self-isolate.”
The paper mentioned Caversham Heath Golf Club, which allows residents of a retirement complex located next door to it to walk across the course during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“It’s quite strange for our members, but they see that people are respecting the property. These are exceptional times and our members were keen to help the community,” said Gary Stangoe, a club representative who has also said it would not be practical for all courses to allow walkers as some have wildlife management programs, protecting wildflowers and bees. “Every club must be left to make their own choice and for most it won’t be appropriate.”
“Golf clubs should open up and do their bit for the community,” said David Williams, a golf course architect. “They are often the biggest open green space in an urban area. It seems wrong that we prevent the public from walking and jogging on them while they’re closed. The average 18-hole golf course is about 150 acres of parkland—that’s huge compared with many of our urban parks.”
In Scotland, people already have access rights to cross a golf course, while a minority of English golf courses already allow public access, The Golf Business reported.
A number of the magazine’s readers have said they are opposed to the idea of opening up their venues, due to damage and mess that can be created which members pay to clear up, The Golf Business reported. While some readers have stated that the damage caused by walkers is probably less than what 100-plus golfers per day with spikes in their shoes create, there has been a broad agreement that dog walkers who leave bags of dog mess would be a significant issue.
Meanwhile, a member of Colville Park Golf Club’s committee responding to Sir Nick Faldo’s comments, told the Motherwell Times that a partial lifting of the lockdown, which would allow for golf to be played provided strict social distancing rules are followed, may not lead to the boom that some golf clubs might expect, The Golf Business reported.
“I just think with a little imagination you could keep the actual courses open,” Faldo said. “What would be the harm in staggering tee-times and people going straight from the car park to the first tee and playing on their own?
“You’ve got hundreds of acres of open land where you could be belting a ball around with no one anywhere near you,” he continued. “Imagine how that would help keen golfers in terms of mental health?”
A pair of historic UK golf clubs—St Idloes Golf Club in Wales and Nairn Dunbar Golf Club in Scotland—both established in the 19th century, have launched appeals for either donations or income to keep them afloat during the coronavirus lockdown, The Golf Business reported.
According to Country Times, St Idloes Golf Club, established in 1897, said it is in an “extremely difficult” situation as all events have been cancelled, while the Covid-19 pandemic arrived just after the course had experienced had high rainfall and flooding. It has launched a GoFundMe page to raise more than $18,000 (£15,000), The Golf Business reported.
“We have no income for the foreseeable future, this will not only affect our loyal, hard-working staff and volunteers,” the club said in a statement. “Unfortunately, due to the heavy rainfall that we experienced in Mid Wales throughout 2020, playing opportunities had been limited. Eventually the rainfall stopped, some golf was played and then the coronavirus hit us.
“Therefore, we are appealing to our members, supporters and friends to assist if at all possible,” it continued. “All funds will go directly to St Idloes Golf Club to ensure that we are able to keep things afloat during the crisis. Once this crisis has ended, we hope that you will come and enjoy our golf course.”
Within 24 hours of the campaign going live for much-needed funds, the club received more than $600 (£500). “Excellent start and a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far,” the club said.
At the same time, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club has issued a rallying call to local golfers to help support the club during the coronavirus crisis—either by retaining membership or joining for the first time, The Golf Business reported. The club, established in 1899, is heavily reliant on the local populace to purchase memberships and are calling for support from golfers during this challenging period.
“This is a challenging and sad time for everyone in society, including the golf club,” Club Manager Kieran Maclean said. “The majority of our hard-working greens, house and administration staff are now in furlough and we are working hard in the face of a rapidly changing situation to mitigate the effects these measures will have on the club.
“We are also investigating if there are any ways the club can be of support to our members and the local community through these trying times,” he continued. “In return, please continue to support your club. While money may be tight just now, we encourage our members to retain their membership and we would also be delighted to see new members come forward. We offer an improved course for all abilities at great value for money.
“Just a few short days ago we were all eagerly looking forward to the start of the 2020 playing season and the club was enjoying a very positive buzz. Hopes are high that this will return quickly when we are allowed to reopen the club and course.”
Tell Us What You Think!
You must be logged in to post a comment.