The decision to keep golf courses across Ireland closed under the Government’s new “Covid-19: Resilience and Recovery” plan has been called “crazy” by a leading member of Galway’s golfing fraternity.
“It seems a bit crazy really, there are about 120 acres there of a golf course without a hundred people allowed on and every weekend there’s thousands of people on the prom,” said Galway Golf Club captain Gerry Cox.
Golfers in Galway are particularly frustrated. In the past two months the Salthill prom has often been packed with people walking and swimming while the golf course alongside remains deserted.
In the Seanad this week, Galway-based Fine Gael senator Sean Kyne received a mixed reaction when he called for the 5km rule to be waived for golfers and sea swimmers.
Galway Fine Fail Senator Ollie Crowe told Galway Pulse, “I don’t think there are easy answers to this question but do appreciate that there is understandable frustration for golfers when certain areas such as the prom are very busy whilst vast golf courses haven’t a soul on them. The UK, with the exception of Scotland, opted to follow Ireland’s approach, not that this necessarily makes it the right decision.”
Irish international golfer and member of Galway Golf Club Joe Lyons last week ran a poll on his “Irish Golf Events” Facebook group asking if Golf Ireland, the governing body for the sport on this island should petition its members to ask the Government to open golf courses with appropriate public health guidance in place. 479 people supported the petition with only 10 voting against.
“There are a few high-ranking Golf Ireland officials who are members of the group so they are very much aware of golfers sentiments.” said Lyons. Galway Pulse did ask Golf Ireland for a comment on the news that courses will remain closed, but they declined to comment.
Mike Mulryan, a PGA golf professional, who owns and operates the Cregboy Golf Academy on the outskirts of Galway City is also deeply unhappy with the decision . “This level 5 lockdown that we are currently under is only a charade.” he said.
“I’ve tried very hard to accept the situation over the past year, I’ve made the best of the lockdowns and tried not to get too upset, but it’s finally starting to get to me. The roads are busy, probably as busy as any other time outside of school term, and all public areas are busy, Shop St, Rinville Park, the Prom, The Galway Market.” he said.
“I am in the golf business and I probably feel so strongly that golf is getting unfair treatment in this lockdown because I am on the receiving end of the unfairness. I’m sure there are other pursuits that have been unfairly stopped, that I don’t know of, but I do know that golf courses should not be closed and that is basic common sense. I feel strongly that we need to control the spread of the virus, and I would feel different about the golf situation if there was any effort to control the movement of people. But as it stands, with roads, streets, parks and coffee shops busy, and now with talk of schools returning, a few people playing golf is the least of our worries.” said Mulryan.
“I’m struggling to stay motivated at the moment. I have work to do, just general maintenance, and soon I’ll have a lot of grass to cut. Standing here on an empty, dark driving range listening to the traffic, I feel in my heart and soul that this government is guilty of playing a game of public relations, rather than dealing with a public health issue. They haven’t controlled our borders, they’ve made no effort to control the movement of people when we are supposedly in lockdown, and they have failed to even open their eyes and look at countries with successful Covid-19 strategies, and just copy what they did.”
The government will review restrictions again before April 5th. Until then golf courses will remain closed.