Australian amateur golf hit hard with cancellations

Given the ongoing Covid-19 concerns, Golf Australia’s chairman Andrew Newbold has announced the cancellation of several planned amateur championships effectively bringing the Australian amateur national tournament calendar to a halt.

The Australian Junior Championships in April, both for girls and boys, has been cancelled along with the Australian Junior Interstate Series. The Australian Interstate Series, scheduled for Sydney in May, has also been cancelled.

Elvis Smylie Elvis Smylie along with Hye Park won the 2019 Australian Junior Championships (Credit: Golf Australia)

“Regrettably, the national competitions will not run in 2020,” said Newbold in a GA release. “I’m sure is a tough pill to swallow for all those who looked forward to competing in such time-honoured events. GA protocols insist that all events involving crowds or large-scale interstate travel be strictly reviewed given the current health issues we’re confronting as a community.”

“As such, and using the latest government advice and guidelines, Golf Australia was left no choice but to take these sad actions.”

Concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus have caused the cancellation or postponement of sporting events throughout the world. American domestic sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and ATP Tour, along with the NCAA and NJCAA have all shut down competition for the foreseeable future in an effort to help slow down the spread of the virus and protect the health of the athletes, officials, spectators and volunteers.

The Australian situation and the approached adopted by Golf Australia is consistent with this.

Local golf clubs are also responding with clubhouse closures following the introduction of lockouts and on the course group numbers have been reduced, flagsticks are to remain in the hole, bunker rakes have been removed and individuals are being responsible for marking their own cards.

Some clubs are taking the additional step of raising cups slightly above the putting surface and deeming any putt to hit the cup as holed to eliminate the need to touch the cup or flagstick.

Without doubt there is going to be a financial downfall with such actions and with further suggestions that group bookings will be limited to 1 player and spaced 10 minutes apart, playing spots will be significantly reduced, assuming courses remain open.

At present, in NSW at least, ClubsNSW has received assurance from Government and law enforcement officials that members of the public can play golf and bowls on courses and greens operated by registered clubs. However, Golf Clubs cannot allow people to assemble or meet in the clubhouse or pro shop.

Yesterday Golf Australia was also seeking clarity from the government if the health and safety advice also impacts golf courses.

As most sports had been called off, golfers have hit the courses in the last week with many at full capacity. It’s kind of ironic that a sport which in recent times has struggled with participation numbers has emerged as one of the most popular pastimes with the present situation.

Perhaps it goes to show that people still want to play golf but just don’t have the spare time in their lives to do so.