Golf’s off, peeps!

April Fools! Hahahaha Gotchya!

Whoops, now it’s back on again. My bad.

Hang on, now it’s banned in Queensland but I’m pretty sure it’s OK to play in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.

Scrap that! There are some courses closing around Perth so best you double-check.

Tassie? Well, they’ve shut off their borders to the rest of the world so who really knows? Not our business, I guess.

Northern Territory? Hmm …. your word is as good as mine.

One moment, what’s this? A national memo (not distributed to the media, mind you!) from golf’s governing body recommending that all Australian golf clubs close immediately. There, that settles it. No more golf. Done. Kaput. Pack those clubs away, Tiger.

Sorry, my mistake again. It’s back on in Queensland. Oh, and New South Wales have just been given the all clear by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to resume play as normal, provided there’s self-distancing in place. Good for the mind, apparently.

Who exactly is calling the shots here? Didn’t Prime Minister Scott Morrison/ScoMo/Scotty From Marketing tell us all, in no uncertain terms, to remain at our homes and only venture out for “essentials” (things like jigsaw puzzles for the kids, from memory?) in order to protect “our lives and livelihoods?”

Anyway, next question.

“Well, who else has been given the green light to play?”  Pfft, don’t ask me. The truth is, I don’t know anymore, and I’m the editor of a national golf magazine. Go figure.

Welcome to “The Benny Hill Show” – formerly known as Australian golf. Cue that catchy theme song….

If the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us anything in the realms of Australian golf it’s:

  1. A nasty virus that can be fatal if the wrong people get it. Based on current information and clinical expertise, older adults (65+) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Many of those fall right into the demographic of Australian golf.
  2. The federated structure of both golf and politics in this country is archaic, confusing and, without sounding too dramatic, potentially life-threatening in this scenario when mixed messages leave all and sundry uneasy about whether they should or shouldn’t be hitting the fairways amid what is a global health and economic crisis.
  3. The image of golf is taking a battering right now and it’s little wonder why. While just about every other sport took the lead and shut up shop, the self-righteous behaviour of those convinced that they have every right to continue teeing up against recommendations because golf is a form of exercise, completely disregarding the “danger zone” demographic they share the car park with, is alarming. The “Age of Entitlement” line has been flipped on it’s head. In a lot of cases, it’s the youth now showing more common sense in the fight against coronavirus.
  4. This thing is changing by the minute – and we must change with it. Heck, even your author posted a live video online (below) back when this virus was just kicking off, when ALL the recommendations were to continue playing with safety precautions in place. But it has now escalated to a point where we must be more responsible. If a group of bag handlers can catch this thing at Adelaide airport, a group of golfers can be as unfortunate. Don’t prove me right.
  5. The broader community isn’t happy about golf’s crusade to keep playing. Ask the friendly folk having a hit at The Vintage – the beautiful Greg Norman-designed golf resort in the New South Wales Hunter Valley – this week. Residents saw golfers out having fun and apparently not engaging in proper social-distancing behaviour. So they called the cops. Yep, the local constabulary had to drive out and see what all the fuss was about. In the end, the golfers were let off.

Now, it must be said Golf Australia has been hammered on social media for its part in all this but it isn’t really justified, not in the past few days anyway. The governing body has drawn a line in the sand and made its stance very clear: stop playing. Contrary to belief, Golf Australia has no control over individual club operations, it can only advise in unprecedented situations like this. In its defence, it has formally advised ALL clubs to close immediately, and provided regular updates from each state body, who themselves only go off their respective state government’s ruling. But it’s all one big, confusing mess. Comical, like Benny Hill himself.

The British funnyman once said “Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.” Classic stuff. This current situation, in Australia club golf, is far from perfect. It’s a dog’s breakfast!

The problem is our governments, and their confusing, merry-go-round policies on what is and isn’t permissible. Further complicating the matter is it’s changing by the minute. We have ScoMo saying one thing, Gladys saying another, Daniel Andrews barking his instructions in Victoria, and so on and so on…..

If only we had one national directive, in golf and politics!

A quick glance across social media last night said it all: confusion and joy all bundled into one.

Where this circus heads next is anyone’s guess, but for now it’s make of it what you will.

Personally, I cannot wait to get out and play golf again. Golf is my livelihood. I live and breathe it. Without it, I’m joining the long queue at Centrelink. It’s in MY best interests that everyone is back out playing. Unfortunately, that’s not in the best interests of anyone else. And that’s the attitude shift that must happen in golf or the very stark reality of this pandemic will hit hard.

A nurse-family member of this publication shed some light on the sobering reality of COVID-19 if we were to screw this up. She said: “In my NSW region right now, if you are over the age of 70 and present to hospital with COVID-19, you will not be placed on a respirator as younger patients will be given priority.”

This is the horrifying predicament medical staff are being put in all across Italy right now. Let that sink in.

Maybe putting the clubs away for a few weeks or months isn’t such a big deal? After all, the quicker we do it, the quicker we can all get back and enjoy life and golf as it was.