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Graeme McDowell says golf can 'easily function' during pandemic and appeals for courses to reopen


Graeme McDowell wants golf courses across the UK to reopen.

Graeme McDowell wants golf courses across the UK to reopen.

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Graeme McDowell wants golf courses across the UK to reopen.

Graeme McDowell has lent his backing to a petition pleading for golf courses to be reopened.

Having gained over 117,000 signatures, including 1,250 in Northern Ireland, the petition will be debated in Parliament at a later date.

The UK Government does not have the power to reopen courses in Northern Ireland, with the devolved administration at the Stormont Executive in charge of coronavirus restrictions.

Nonetheless, McDowell has urged support for the movement to get the sport going.

"I think this is something worth supporting in the UK," he said, tweeting a link to the petition. "With correct safety measures, golf is a sport which can easily function in these tough times. Great for exercise and general well-being."

The petition conceded that clubhouses and club shops must remain closed, but appealed for courses to be permitted to reopen.

McDowell's former Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood explained: "People’s physical and mental health. That’s the point. Especially in the older age groups. The group they (government) say they’re trying to protect."

Courses in England were ordered to shut on Tuesday following Boris Johnston's announcement of a new lockdown on Monday evening. Courses in Wales have been closed since December 19 and similarly in the Republic of Ireland since December 31, although golf courses remain open throughout Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, courses have been closed since Boxing Day under the latest wave of restrictions, currently set to last until February 6.

That decision was taken despite the Professional Golfers' Association writing to the Stormont Executive appealing for courses to be allowed to remain open.

Chief Executive Robert Maxfield, writing on behalf of more than 150 PGA members across Northern Ireland, pointed to the "undeniable health and mental wellbeing benefits that golf offers to a significant proportion of the country" while also stating his belief that the sport has proven its capability to continue in a covid-safe manner.

Belfast Telegraph