Golf’s crusade to keep playing not a good look for the game

Australian golf media have weighed in on the on-again, off-again situation of playing golf amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Can you play golf right now, or not? Astoundingly, there is no simple answer with governments and golf’s ruling bodies across Australia giving confusing, often conflicting advice.

I borrowed a couple of lines for the title for this post. One from a recent opinion piece from Golf Australia Magazine editor Brendan James, and one from Brad Clifton at Australian Golf Digest. Both are astounded that golf is still being played in Australia.

Given the very existence of these magazines relies on golf being played, their insistence that golf courses need to shut down makes for compelling reading.

Especially after yesterday’s message from the NSW Government and Golf NSW suggesting golf courses can re-open, something many golf courses across NSW have done today.

Golf Australia editor Brendan James advocates for a golf shutdown especially as not all golfers are practising social-distancing.

I have to admit it was not a good look for the game to see golfers treading the fairways – not all practicing social-distancing mind you – as the majority of the population stayed in self-isolation. It looked like any other normal Sunday.

But it wasn’t. No day is normal anymore.

With a slight drop in daily cases over the weekend, self-isolation is obviously working. I feel for the clubs losing their last revenue stream (as little as it may be) if they have to close their course. But I really believe this short term pain, and having more people staying home, will end this nightmare for all of us sooner rather than later.

Australian Golf Digest’s Brad Clifton was also scathing of the lack of leadership that sees golf courses still open across the country.

The image of golf is taking a battering right now and it’s little wonder why. While just about every other sport took the lead and shut up shop, the self-righteous behaviour of those convinced that they have every right to continue teeing up against recommendations because golf is a form of exercise, completely disregarding the “danger zone” demographic they share the car park with, is alarming. The “Age of Entitlement” line has been flipped on its head. In a lot of cases, it’s the youth now showing more common sense in the fight against coronavirus.

The broader community isn’t happy about golf’s crusade to keep playing. Ask the friendly folk having a hit at The Vintage – the beautiful Greg Norman-designed golf resort in the New South Wales Hunter Valley – this week. Residents saw golfers out having fun and apparently not engaging in proper social-distancing behaviour. So they called the cops. Yep, the local constabulary had to drive out and see what all the fuss was about. In the end, the golfers were let off.

11 thoughts on “Golf’s crusade to keep playing not a good look for the game

  • There are significant people walking and cycling around our local parks and streets. It’s a great way of coping with being housebound. Playing golf is no different than walking or cycling. You cannot compare other sports with golf its not comparing apples to apples because of the location and the way sports are played. Golf is providing much needed physical and mental health benefits and keeping people employed. I certainly do not see an image problem as golf has been smart in adjusting the rules and set up.

    • True I feel the same but no more than 1 player at a time. With proper distance between.

  • Play in pairs. No hand shaking, no touching the flag and stay a couple of metres apart. All very easy to achieve on a golf course.

  • I believe that golf can and should be played under the following strict guidelines:
    No sharing of golf carts. ( could go further and say only walkers allowed and ban golf carts for the time being)
    Sanitise hands at arrival and upon leaving the course

    No shaking hands or any human contact unless with your live- in partner

    No cars to be parked next to each other in the car park

    No touching the stick

    No picking up of golf balls unless its your own

    Each person putts out before the next person ensuring social distancing

    At the end of your game sanitise your hands, go straight to the car and go home.

    If the above measures are carried out its safer than walking the streets, safer than going to the supermarket , the pharmacist or the doctors surgery. Good for your sanity and your health. Lets be sensible about this!! I live alone, I am spending 95% of my time isolated at home, I walk the golf course for 6 hours per week, that’s 3 days of playing 9 holes.

  • Golfers are being selfish thinking of themselves, playing pairs gets around the law but waiting on the Tee ,on the practice greens and driving range there is oftern more then 2 people gathering. Do the right thing and stay at home Think of others that you may come in contact with away from golf PS I am a golfer doning the right thing staying at home

  • Walking the course, hitting shots and a barrier to,prevent hole outs, no rakes, social distancing is fine for physical and mental stimulation. I fully support it.


  • Agree with John All the steps taken by the golf clubs to stop contact could be done with other sports but they have chosen the correct action and closed with the members staying home Golf clubs just working around the law

  • Played golf today – timesheet used, play only in pairs, no touching flagstick, no handshakes/ high fives, no fakes. Arrived 5 minutes before hit off, left immediately after the game, don’t have the opportunity to talk to other players – don’t see them except to maybe give them a wave. In 4 games I have never met anyone other than my playing partner on the tee and always have good spacing between the individuals and playing groups. Practice areas are closed to all and only members are able to play. It’s not a case of working around the law – it’s using common sense and abiding by current regulations.

  • The only problem with common sense is that it’s not very common…….. I’ve got more chance of being infected everyday at my workplace and my job is classed as an essential service!
    I’m gobsmacked that a group of four golfers can’t separate themselves by at least 2m on wide fairways and stay out of each other’s way on the tee and on the green. ‍♂️

  • I understand the community might feel golfers are elitist if they see them playing. But I – a Victorian – am with the group that feels that with the right constraints a round of golf should be considered a perfectly acceptable risk, and allows many Australians to maintain the only form of exercise they have. Being deprived of it for any length of time risks lower physical and mental fitness.
    The risks mentioned in this forum – proximity in car parks, on tees for example – are occurring now at other venues such as public recreational parks and supermarkets, but are allowed provided people observe the social distancing requirement.


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