Petition calling for golf courses to stay open garners over 250,000 signatures

A petition calling for golf to get a reprieve when England goes into a second national lockdown on Thursday has garnered over 250,000 signatures.

Golf courses in England are facing closure as part of a second national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty Images
Golf courses in England are facing closure as part of a second national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty Images

It has also been supported by some well-known figures in the game, including Sky Sports Golf's main anchorman, Nick Dougherty.

The petition was raised after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday night that outdoor sports would be banned as part of new lockdown measures in England.

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By the time it closed last night, the petition had attracted a total of 254,751 signatures, more than double the figure required for a debate in Parliament.

Dougherty, a three-time European Tour winner before launching a broadcasting career, expressed his support for the petition on social media.

"The value of golf to both mental and physical well being was demonstrated in our first lockdown, although it has always been the case with our sport," said the Englishman. "All it requires is respect for the social distancing guidelines for it to do it again.

"For me, this isn’t about folks missing out on a month’s golf. It’s about golf playing it’s small role as a solution to some of the collateral damage of this pandemic. Golf’s biggest asset is the change and growth it can offer, not just at golf clubs, but for children in schools, too.

"It’s about the healing and support that the sport can give in these strange times and the future. I’ve been lucky enough to see first hand golf change and indeed save lives. Respect the guidance and support the sport.

"The club houses don’t need to be open. We coped with just the courses open in the first lockdown."

Scotland's top-ranked women's professional Gemma Dryburgh, who lives in England, also gave her backing to the petition.

"Don’t see the difference between a walk with someone in a park and a round of golf with friends/family," she said on Twitter. "Golf has social distancing built into it. Keep the courses open."

England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has hit out at the Government's plan and called for an immediate rethink.

In an open letter to “fellow golfers”, he said: “I would like to make clear England Golf’s intention to respectfully challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses. "We will do so utilising all in our network – MPs, colleagues, media and friends – to make sure we are heard by government.

“Listening to the prime minister, the news that he is actively encouraging safe and responsible outdoor exercise for households or two individuals pointed to our great game of golf being at the heart of this policy.

"The guidance which followed stating that golf courses were on a list of venues which should close, therefore, appeared contradictory and came out of the blue.”

Courses in the Republic of Ireland are currently closed as part of the country's new Level 5 Covid-19 regulations but Northern Ireland's clubs and courses remain open.

In Wales, courses are closed for two-and-a-half weeks as part of its "firebreak" measures.

There has been no hint from the Scottish Government that golf courses could be closed as part of the new tier restrictions being introduced around the country today.

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