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Coronavirus Kent: Sittingbourne & Milton Regis Golf Club are against a proposal from Green MP Caroline Lucas to let courses open for public exercise

Campaigners are urging the government to allow golf courses to be opened up so there is more space for people to exercise safely.

It’s got the backing of a couple of MPs, most notably former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.

Darren Clarke on the 18th at Royal St George's during The Open in 2011. Should courses be open for exercise? Picture: Barry Goodwin
Darren Clarke on the 18th at Royal St George's during The Open in 2011. Should courses be open for exercise? Picture: Barry Goodwin

Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, Harriet Harman also thinks turning golf courses into exercise spots is a good idea.

General manager at Sittingbourne & Milton Regis Golf Club, Steve Bootes, doesn’t agree.

He said: “We would not entertain having any Tom, Dick or Harry running around our golf course, that’s for sure.

“The members pay a lot of money for the upkeep of the place and to have people running around it would just be a mockery to be honest, that is why you have parks and places like that.

“I don’t think us, as a private members' golf club, would be interested in allowing it to be opened up to the general public for that.”

Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, tweeted: “It’s surely common sense to create as much open space as possible to allow socially-distanced exercise.

“Let's open up golf courses to the public (there are 300,000 acres of them across UK) and give people more room to walk and run.”

She has backed the petition on change.org, which said: “Don’t close parks – open up golf courses so there’s more space to exercise safely.”

Mr Bootes doesn’t even want their own members coming for a stroll, let alone the mass public.

He said: "We don’t want people turning up for a walk, thinking it is their hour’s exercise. Exercise should be from home or very close to home.

“People would have to travel here and that would come under the unnecessary travel restrictions. We are trying to deter anyone from coming to the golf club at the moment.”

Golf courses across the country have been shut since the national lockdown came into force.

Clubs like Sittingbourne rely on members’ subscriptions and it’s the hot topic around the clubs at the moment. If they dry up clubs will suffer.

Mr Bootes said: “From a business sense, we would love to have the course back open, so people can come and play, but for that to happen there would have to be some really strict guidelines from above coming down.

“We can do all we can but to police it would be a nightmare. I know Denmark are looking at doing things to play on but would it work here? I don’t think it would.

“The sooner people start bunkering down to the rules the sooner we can see light at the end of the tunnel being nearer.”

More: The Open Championship in Kent is cancelled


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