As the UK goes into it's third wave of pandemic lockdowns golf courses are again closed. A petition to keep them open has seen close to 60,000 signatures in 24 hours. Noted golfers backing the call to keep courses open include British golfers Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. Their endorsement comments can be read here.
Graeme McDowell says, "I think this is something worth supporting in the UK. With correct safety measures, golf is a sport which can easily function in these tough times. Great for exercise and general well being".
England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson went further, saying that "the physical and mental wellbeing" of millions of people across the country could be helped should the government reopen courses.
"In excess of two million golfers could have been looked after here differently," Tomlinson said to the BBC.
"That community could have been able to exercise in a different way. It could have taken the strain from public places, parks to be done in a regulated fashion. It is a real shame."
A century ago the world was emerging from another pandemic, the Spanish Flu. Golf courses were not closed during that pandemic and along with some other sports, interest in golf surged. "Between 1916 and 1920 the number of weekend golfers doubled to one-half million."
Similarly, there has been a surge in interest in golf as a sport, as a way to keep fit and healthy, in many places during the present pandemic. It is happening in the US and it is happening in Australia.
"Golf is experiencing a pandemic-inspired boom, a new report has confirmed." - Golf Australia.
Importantly for the industry and its future, rounds played by people in the 20-49 age range have skyrocketed in the past four months.
Since the “first wave” of Covid-19 restrictions in April, demand in that cohort has climbed by 44 percent, meaning a total 22 per cent lift on 2019.
“It’s no secret that clubs around Australia have sought younger members for years now, so if we can convert this surge in interest into meaningful long-term numbers for our clubs and facilities, then that’s a blessing, albeit in a heavy disguise." - David Gallichio, GM Golf Australia. Read their full article here.
Update: The petition has now passed 100,000 signatures.