29 September 2020

Catherine Ford: “[H]ow is it that city golf courses are only for golfers? A golf course in a large city is an anomaly, after all, and one whose clubbish exclusivity is — I think — hard to justify. If you consider that the average nine-hole golf course occupies roughly 30 hectares of coveted empty land and requires considerable resources to function — abundant water and specialist maintenance teams — while pleasing only a few dozen people brandishing sticks outside a weekend, that is quite a proposition. Thirty tastefully landscaped, publicly owned hectares in an urban area, enjoyed by only a tiny proportion of the population, is an astonishing and significant ‘private’ oasis. In this modern world, and pandemic-informed moment, it seems only sensible and fair to maximise the use of a course by opening it up to any in need of its benefits. By this, I mean long-term shared use for all, beyond lockdowns. A golf course — by the nature of the game — is used only intermittently, by small groups of people, many of whom are only free on weekends. … On many days it is completely devoid of people. Why, I wonder, can’t we find a way for it be shared — officially, that is, by clearly demarcating golfing and non-golfing days to ensure people’s safety — to satisfy everyone, both those who golf and those who do not?”