Cross-border golfers back on course after Covid fine fears eased

Matthew Cooper, PA
·3-min read

Members of a golf club with holes in both England and Wales have been given the green light to cross the border during their rounds.

Officials at Llanymynech Golf Club had been informed by Powys County Council that golfers resident in England ran the risk of being fined for breaching Covid travel rules.

But the Welsh Government has now said it would be reasonable for members of the club “to enter or leave Wales” whether they live in England or Wales.

Although the clubhouse and 15 of the course’s 18 holes are entirely in Wales, its entrance is in England, along with the 5th and 6th holes and the green of the 4th hole.

Coronavirus – Wed May 13, 2020
Hole 4 at Llanymynech Golf Club, where players tee off in Wales and putt in England (Jacob King/PA)

More than 100 of the club’s 450 members had been expected to tee off to mark the easing of lockdown measures in England on Monday, but the course instead hosted a handful of members resident in Wales.

Club chairman Stuart Jones said: “We have been told (by the council) that English members are not allowed to play… and they said Welsh residents could play. It’s just a nonsense really.

“The entrance is in England and without the English residents we wouldn’t have a golf course because it’s two-thirds of our membership.”

Asked what impact the legal advice from the council had had on the club on Monday, Mr Jones replied: “The course is dead. We would probably have about 150 people playing today, on a normal Monday. I saw two people on the course and that was it.

“It’s sad. It was nice and sunny and the bookings were full to play. We have waited three months and people were desperate for a game. It’s just nuts.”

Coronavirus – Wed May 13, 2020
A golfer at Llanymynech last May, after previous restrictions were eased (Jacob King/PA)

The bizarre situation mirrors confusion last summer when local pubs yards apart faced differing regulations on reopening.

Before the Welsh Government clarified rules around access to the course, a spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “We understand the frustrations that Llanymynech Golf Club are currently experiencing and are working with them to find a workable solution.

“However, the Welsh Government currently have travel restrictions in place which means travel in to and out of Wales is not permitted unless you have a reasonable excuse.

“The council has provided advice to Llanymynech Golf Club on what the latest restrictions are following the Welsh Government’s announcement at the end of last week. Travel restrictions can only be enforced by the police.”

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said the situation surrounding the club was ludicrous.

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The Conservative MP said on Twitter: “Ludicrous statements from the Labour administration in Wales. They say Shropshire people can’t attend cross-border @Llanymynechgolf Club, yet people in Wales can cross to the club’s entrance in Shropshire!

“My constituents should be free to enjoy safe exercise and fresh air today.”

In a short statement issued on Monday, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It would be reasonable for members of Llanymynech Golf Club to enter or leave Wales within the confines of the golf course.”