By Brian Keogh
Photo by Golffile
Golf clubs on both sides of the border will shut down until April 19 following the introduction of more stringent measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
In line with government announcements — first in the Uk and then in the Republic of Ireland — the GUI and ILGU have recommended that all golf clubs, practice facilities and courses across the island close with immediate effect.
In a joint statement, the Unions said: “While golf is an outdoor sport that allows players to exercise in the fresh air, the message is clear. People must stay at home to help to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“The Unions recognise the need clubs may have for business support at this time.
“We will monitor options available and engage with the relevant sporting bodies in due course to make representations for our member clubs.”
Greenkeeping staff can continue maintenance work providing they adhere strictly to government guidelines on physical (social) distancing.
Clubs should divide course staff into two teams where possible and if one becomes unavailable, the other team will still be okay to work.
While the recommendation by the Unions was widely supported, it was not unanimously welcomed by all clubs.
The fact that there was no direct reference to golf clubs in the Irish government statement left some clubs requiring clarification from senior government figures before reluctantly agreeing to follow the “recommendation” by the Unions.
“This is not a financial concern for us,” one club manager said before coming back to say they had received the relevant government assurances about the need for golf courses to close to the public.
"Our green fee income is already gone for the year. We’d just like to know if some of our members can come up and play a fourball using social distancing.
“We are no just thinking of ourselves. If clubs have to remain closed as the season approaches, many of them will not open again and they will fall on their faces."