The coronavirus outbreak has brought most sport to a standstill, but one game is giving some Australians respite from the ongoing uncertainty.
Despite increasing efforts to limit life outside the home, golf has been allowed to continue in most states — as long as clubs adopt strict conditions in keeping their courses open.
The move has been praised by players and medical experts concerned about the potential health risks of social restrictions on older people.
Sydney resident John Parker has been playing at Marrickville Golf Club for 40 years and he has never experienced conditions like those under COVID-19.
Players are restricted to groups of two and must keep 1.5 metres apart at all times.
Carts cannot be shared, hand sanitiser is freely available, and the clubhouse is closed.
Despite the extreme measures, the retiree is thrilled to be out in the fresh air.
“I just love it, it’s a reason to get up early in the morning,” he said.
Golf is one of his last remaining social activities.
He is unable to visit his grandchildren and his outings to the theatre stopped weeks ago.
State-specific golf guidance
- It remains Golf Australia‘s formal recommendation that all golf clubs and facilities should close until further notice
- The latest notice from Queensland Health is that clubs may operate under the exception to the list of non-essential business and activity closure direction
- Tasmania’s Government has set a limit of 2 people per hole on the golf course
- Office of Sport – NSW Government advises golf can continue in line with Public Health Orders relating to public gathering limits, social distancing, and the elderly
- SA Police Commissioners’ office advises that courses are treated no differently to restrictions on public parks and beaches with no more than 10 people congregating and social distancing requirements
- The Victorian Government’s Stage 2 restrictions regarding COVID-19 directs all golf clubs and facilities to close
- The NT Chief Health Officer’s direction is that sporting facilities, indoor and outdoor, are closed to the public, including to customers and members
Correct as at April 7, 2020.
Source: Golf Australia’s COVID-19 information for clubs and golfers, which will be maintained with the latest advice
“[Coronavirus restrictions] have had a big impact on my wife and I,” he said.
“We always went out on a Tuesday night and that’s no longer possible.
“Not being able to see the grandchildren has been one of the biggest impacts, but we talk to them everyday on the phone.”
He said the potential of losing golf would be a difficult blow to many people.
“The elderly and retired generation really look forward to it and it’s devastating if they can’t play,” he said.
For fellow golfer Peter Harrison the game has been a respite from the uncertainty of the world around him.
“It’s definitely a release,” he said.
“Once you’re on the course you switch off from everything else and that just brings you back to where you used to be.”
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