Manchester Evening News: David Horsey on golf and Covid-19
Article posted: 26 March 2020
It is amazing how quickly things have escalated but is important now that we take whatever steps are necessary to get through these tough times.
Since my last column, it’s fair to say that things have changed in a big way in the golf world, as indeed they has for everyone. It is amazing how quickly things have escalated but is important now that we take whatever steps are necessary to get through these tough times.
The month began for the European Tour in Qatar where I was pleased to make the cut, although the final day wasn’t what I expected. During that week in Qatar, the European Tour’s Chief Executive Keith Pelley flew out and delivered the news that the following week’s event, the Magical Kenya Open, was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
With the week off, I travelled to Antalya, Turkey to the Gloria Resort where I was really well looked after by Director of Golf David Clare. The facilities were great, and it was a good spot to get some practice in ahead of the Indian Open which was scheduled for last week. Unfortunately, that was also cangolf and the celled and, with that, there is now no European Tour golf until the end of May. This is an unprecedented time in professional golf but with so much suffering in the world, golf and other sports are rightly low down on the priority list.
Since returning home last week, I was able to practice more or less as usual. England Golf introduced measures last week that encouraged social distancing and reduced the risk of transmission. Altered cups in the holes, removing rakes from bunkers and not removing the pinflag were just a few of those measures.
As of Monday night though, all golf courses are now closed indefinitely so the plan for me in the coming weeks is to stay fit at home, pass the time and wait for further clarity on the golf season going forward.
There are all sorts of implications that face all the stakeholders in professional golf from top to bottom. The implications of The Masters and USPGA Championship being postponed mean that there will be a lot of tough decisions for both the PGA Tour in America and the European Tour closer to home. For instance, there are many players who face the threat of losing their playing rights and being relegated back to the second-tier tours if no more golf is played. Finding the correct balance that satisfies current members and still encourages potential future members though the development tours and Qualifying School is the key.
Whilst many of the world’s top players are fortunate to be financially secure, for every one of them there is 100 players playing development tours such as the PGA EuroPro Tour based in the UK, which recently took the decision to cancel the 2020 season. The guys playing on tours like that are living week to week in some cases and it must be a scary time for them given that they base their season around the EuroPro calendar and then European Tour Qualifying School later in the year.
All this stems back to the uncertainty that faces the top-level tours over when exactly we can get back playing. Personally, it is hard to see any golf being played before July. It is very hard to predict and I’m sure the European Tour will take time to ensure that the decisions made regarding the season are suitable for all members.
One thing the European Tour have been great with is their proactivity on social media encouraging members to be as engaging as possible during this time. Hopefully this does its bit to keep spirits among golf fans high, provide sponsors with some exposure and ultimately build some excitement for when do get back out on the course.
In the meantime, we are all confined to our houses doing something which we are used to – killing time. Travelling so much on tour, we are used to passing the time and I will likely pick up a few old hobbies which I haven’t had time to dedicate to in recent years such as playing the guitar, reading a few books and perhaps some F1 video games.
Hopefully everyone can stay safe in the next few weeks and we can get back to doing whatever it is that we all enjoy doing as soon as possible.