British golfer and coach Sophie Walker is one of many sports people who have suffered financially due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
“Even before lockdown officially started, I was getting corporate days cancelled, coaching cancelled, commentaries cancelled and as we come out of lockdown then travel with my work will also get affected.” she said.
On Sunday, the Government lifted some restrictions in the current lockdown by enabling people to play golf- on their own or with one family member and by keeping social distancing. Sophie totally agreed with the decision.
“I think it was the right decision to close the courses but now it’s been eight weeks and if lockdown is to be lifted and you are allowed to go out to parks and beaches, then I didn’t see the reason not to be allowed on to a golf course.” she said. “I think it could be great for the sport because there will be a lot of people that might play football, cricket, go to the gym and all that type of stuff that you wont be able to do for the foreseeable future, maybe they will come to golf because they will want to play some form of sport, so it could be a great time for golf clubs.”
The LPGA and the R & A are expected to decide soon on the possibility of still holding the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon this summer. Sophie feels this could happen but has some reservations about this.
“In my golf head I’m thinking it wouldn’t be an unbelievable opportunity for women’s golf as the Open isn’t on this year.” she said. “So could the women’s British Open get better coverage, as people are crying out for live sport. “August is a long way away and a lot of things could change. My only thing is the travel situation. I do think it could be done, but I think everybody is really scared to be the first. I think the PGA will do it and everyone will just take a lead from that and remember that at the minute golf courses in Scotland are still closed.”
The LET Ladies European Tour has been badly hit this year and have currently lost eight tournaments so far. The LET have teamed up with the LPGA and Sophie feels this will help golf.
“I do think the partnership with the LPGA will probably save them.” she said. “What I worry about in sport in general is if the companies that are sponsoring the sport take a massive financial hit this year, doesn’t mean automatically that we will put it back a year.”
The Ryder Cup is scheduled to take place in September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin USA, but due to the current situation worldwide, there has been calls for the event to be cancelled. Sophie feels it should be played, only if safe to do so.
“In an ideal world the Ryder Cup would be what it always is.”she said.”But this is not an ideal world at the moment, and if there is an opportunity to play it, then I think it should be played because of the financial impact that it has, but if the outbreak of Covid-19 is that bad then that decision is taken out of our hands then it shouldn’t be played, but if the only decision is with or without fans, then I do think it should be played.”
Interview with Sophie Walker