A change of course?
Pondering the future of golf in Brexit Britain

29 March 2018

As avid golfers focus their attention on the US Masters in Augusta Georgia next month, many at the 19th Hole will be pondering the impact of Brexit on their beloved game.

Will the UK ‘catch a bunker’ or is it more likely to manage to ‘avoid the rough’ by changing course? What rifts will be caused by resigning membership of this particular (European) Club and how open will remaining members be to allowing UK visitors to play on their fairways in the future?

Most golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking will continue to be free to compete for the Claret Jug and the Masters Trophy. Brexit will not stop golfers from the EU or anywhere else in the world participating in future British competitions such as the Open and the Masters – and they will still be able to bring their entourage with them. On the other hand, if free movement is restricted, European golfers who want to base themselves in the UK, as well as officials, caddies and other support staff associated with the golf world may well be affected by new rules.

Jordan Spieth and Paul Dunne will have noticed how the UK’s change of course has affected their winnings. The drop in the value of the pound against the dollar has reduced the value of prize money at British championship competitions. However, this will partially be set off against the increasing prize money to be won by successful competitors each year. Similarly, for UK-based amateur golfers, golf trips abroad will be noticeably more expensive and likely to involve additional paperwork and administration.

In turn, the UK has become much more affordable for foreign golfers – especially those in the US – potentially leading to a flood of foreign golfers to Britain’s historic courses.

And how will Brexit affect the Ryder Cup, the great biennial competition between the best European and US golfers? British golfers will continue to be eligible to play for the European Team. A spokesman for the European Team has said:

 “The United Kingdom remains a geographical part of Europe even though it will no longer be part of the political or economic structure of the European Union. In terms of the flag flown to represent the European Ryder Cup team, we consider that the blue and gold flag of Europe represents the continent of Europe and has a broad symbol of Europe as a whole and they therefore plan to continue to use it.”

To that extent, unusually, the United Kingdom and Europe remain as one.

In the meantime, dozens of EU directives are likely to come into force during the Brexit transition. One new law to be introduced by the EU requires people to insure all off-road vehicles, including tractors, mobility scooters……and even golf buggies……

So what does the future hold for golf as we exit the EU? Will we be changing Courses or will it depend on which way the wind is blowing? As with so many other factors with Brexit, some will say that you may as well throw a blade of grass in the air.

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