Secretary of State Hears Case for Golf

The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, has presented the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, with a detailed paper making clear that golf can be played safely in line with Covid-restrictions.

The paper, available on the Group’s website has also been sent direct to the Secretary of State for Health, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Sports Minister and the Chairman of the Digital, Media and Sport Select Committee.  Members of Parliament in the Group representing Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh constituencies will present the paper to ministers in national governments.

Compiled from the work of industry bodies involved in the All-Party Parliamentary Group, and building on the operational experience established by clubs and facilities throughout the UK, the paper demonstrates that golf has established COVID secure practices including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the Hands, Face, Space directive.  Whilst the meeting comes after the Prime Minister’s announcement that golf will be allowed to return after the end of the national lockdown in England, the paper highlights that the sport functions in total compliance with these Tiered COVID Alert Levels, and it delivers physical activity and mental wellbeing within the Rule of Six.

After the meeting, Tracey said: “I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking the time to meet with me today and hear the evidence that golf is a sport that can be played safely during Covid.  He recognises the incredibly hard work of golf bodies throughout the UK to ensure this is the case, as well as the outstanding conduct of staff and players involved in the sport in their compliance with government guidance.

“As the paper makes clear, an estimated 20 million full-length rounds of golf took place between June and September 2020 and academic opinion from advisors to the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) indicate that any level of community transmission attributed to playing golf is likely to be extremely low.  This is to be expected; not only does golf provide greater social distancing than the likes of walking, running, or cycling in urban settings, those who play do so with enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures implemented and monitored by golf clubs and facilities.

“Armed with the paper, I was able to make clear that in lockdown conditions and at lower COVID-19 alert levels, golf can be played safely within the Rule of Six and without restriction on number of households.

“I was very pleased to be able to present this to the Secretary of State, and additionally make the case that that with the well-documented health benefits of playing golf, not only should it be allowed to continue during any future restrictions, the UK and other governments should recognise its importance in supporting people’s physical and mental wellbeing and that ministers and officials should speak to industry bodies about how the sport can be made more accessible to people now, when they need it most.”

Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said: “Due to the head room we got from the difficult national restrictions in November, we can now ensure grassroots sport can reopen across all three Tiers.  I know the great benefits playing golf and being part of a community club brings, which is why, working with the APPG for Golf, we ensured they would be front of the queue to be reopened. Golf is a fantastic sport with millions playing and watching every week, myself included.”