LOCAL golfing legend and stage funny man Glen Turner of Wonthaggi has joined the chorus calling for an easing of the ban on golf.

And while he’s prepared to poke fun at the situation, he believes there’s a very serious side to people being able to resume the sport they love.

“The reality is a lot of clubs could go to the wall over this,” Mr Turner said this week.

“They’re still paying the cost of upkeep on the courses but without any income.”

But Mr Turner believes golf can be played completely safely, much more so than the risk involved with going shopping.

“Some easing of restrictions is warranted now that numbers are coming down,” he said this week, admitting he’s going a little stir crazy at home without his twice-weekly fix.

“Certainly, things can get bad, as we’ve seen in America, but golf can be played completely safely, with the benefits far outweighing any risk.”

And he’s one of the most at risk if he managed to contract coronavirus.

“Because of my accident, with the collapsed lungs and all that, plus I’m a smoker so I’m one of the most at risk.

“But for sure, I’d definitely play golf, absolutely.

“There was the issue with getting the flag out of the hole, but we raised the cups and left the flag in so that solved that.”

It also made putting easier, according to Turner with a grin.

“Blokes were just lining up the pin from eight feet out, taking the borrow out of it and dropping their putts off the stick.

“They stopped that by putting a metre ring around the hole and your ball can’t ricochet past that.

“It’s one person to a cart, or you walk along on your own. You’re never closer to anyone than 10 feet. They could make it two or three to a group and just watch out when you were passing someone.

“You don’t rake the bunker because you have to touch the flag. Suits me!

“They claim coronavirus can get in the hole, but I don’t believe that’s right.

“Reality is, you don’t touch anything else except your own clubs and balls,” he said, reminding people to wash their hands afterwards.

Glen plays regularly, on a Monday and Thursday, at Wonthaggi saying it’s a very therapeutic pastime for many, including himself.

“I get a bit down on myself every now and then because of the accident but I’m actually pretty good at self-isolating after doing it for 12 months when I was recovering. But you’ve got to get out and golf is actually perfectly suited to this situation.”

He’s also concerned about the financial state of golf clubs, especially those that were struggling well before COVID-19 came along.

“They’re going to have to bail most clubs out if this goes on much longer, but definitely, I support those calling for a return to golf.

“And they should allow people to go fishing off the beach, jetty or wherever they like to go.

“What harm can there be in a person on their own fishing off the beach.”

Mr Turner has weighed into a debate that has been raging since a state health official announced, incorrectly last Friday, that the ban on golf would be lifted in time for the weekend.

Both the State Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton jumped on the report immediately.

“If Australia hadn’t put in place social distancing and mass gathering restrictions when we did then what’s playing out overseas would be us now,” Ms Mikakos said.

“So, forgive me if I think staying alive is more important than playing a round of golf.”

There was a glimmer of hope for desperate golfers after the Department of Health and Human Services advised that golf was not prohibited, and could be played if care was taken.

But in an embarrassing departmental blunder, the advice was wrong after a misunderstanding of a government staffer.

It comes as Golf Australia today changed its advice to golf clubs.

It had been recommending clubs close but today advised they could open with care.

“Acknowledging the long challenge that lies ahead of all Australians during this pandemic, we have been encouraged to see golf played in comparative safety in five states and one territory in recent weeks as we all adopt social distancing necessities,” it said in a statement.

“Under strict and specific safety protocols – enforced by state and territory guidelines as well as individual club rules – Golf Australia is now satisfied that golf can be played at minimal risk. Having worked collaboratively with our clubs and other stakeholders, we are now comfortable to alter our position and encourage courses to open and for people to play.”

But it didn’t stop State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien bemoaning the inconsistency.

“We’re the only state to ban fishing from the beach and golf,” he said, calling for both to be allowed.

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Ban is an ‘over-reach’

Korumburra Golf Club manager, John Payne, a PGA certified golf coach has weighed into the controversy.

In a statement this week he has described the Victorian ban on golf as an “over-reach” by the State Government.

“As many of you know, Victoria is experiencing the most severe restrictions of any of the States and Territories in the Commonwealth, as it comes to COVID 19, especially as it relates to its decision to ban the play of golf.

“This is in spite of how safe it is to play golf, compared to going to the grocery store or Bunnings.

“Management has done all it can to let Golf Australia know of its alarm of the overreach of the Andrew’s Government, and has expressed its editorial opinion on the policies of Dan Andrews on Facebook.

“Specifically, emails have been sent to Golf Australia, expressing our opposition to this overreach. It has been encouraging to see Golf Australia’s reversal on this subject and its subsequent endorsement again of playing golf, depending on each state’s regulations.

“After reconsideration, the Office of Sport NSW Government has advised that golf is considered an activity that can continue to be played in line with Public Health Orders relating to public gathering limits, social distancing, and the elderly.

“But it is Golf Australia’s recommendation that, based on the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services directive, issued as part of the Victorian Government’s restrictions regarding COVID-19, that all golf clubs and facilities should remain closed until May 11, 2020.

“Sam Newman, the controversial social commentator, has, for many of us, hit the nail on the head when it comes to the arrogance of the state government.

“So as of today, management is doing all it can to encourage the reversal of Dan Andrews’ stand banning golf. This would allow our members to play, according to social distancing rules being used by all the other states and territories. We also encourage you to lobby your state representative and/or email Golf Australia.

“This virus is very real. However, the rules being applied are not consistent with other States and Territories. And we believe it is wrong to say this is about saving lives. Stop using that line with us. By such logic all other states and territories are trying to kill golfers all across Australia!

“So, we encourage you to voice your disapproval where you can.

“Both management and respective board members are encouraged, however, by the progress being made and look forward to you playing golf again very soon.”