Ian Woosnam Senior Golf Classic at Ilkley still going ahead

Organisers are to go ahead with plans to stage a seniors golf event, headlined by a former Masters winner, at Ilkley Golf Club next week, despite the tightening of measures against coronavirus.

Ian Woosnam during day three of the Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.(Picture: PA)

The Ian Woosnam Senior Golf Classic encompasses a pro-am on Tuesday and an 18-hole seniors event on Wednesday.

Promoters SGH Events, together with sponsors Welcome to Yorkshire, have been planning the event for months, hoping to make it a celebration of sport’s return and a launchpad to making Yorkshire a top golfing destination.

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However, the government’s latest measures aimed at tackling Covid-19 have meant organisers have had to stiffen their own protocols – including no fans and players staying in their bubbles – to adhere to the regulations.

Scotland's Catriona Matthew, the former women's British open champion, is headed to Ilkley (Picture: PA)

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “I have the upmost respect and appreciation for anyone trying to organise an event right now. Of course, controlling coronavirus is paramount to us all and the safety of everyone has to be top priority.

“Unlike during lockdown, when the rules were clear for all, there is still a degree of uncertainty at present. This can lead to confusion and inertia, which makes it difficult for businesses to plan and operate.

“Our organisation has become synonymous with staging high quality events, yet this year we have either cancelled or postponed everything from our annual conference, various festivals to the Tour de Yorkshire.

“Much meticulous planning and close liaison with various authorities has gone into this event. We believe Covid-secure events should proceed, adhering to the latest guidelines. No spectators will be allowed to attend and players in groups of four will have to stay within their bubbles throughout the day, eating and drinking together.

Welcome to Yorkshire's new CEO, James Mason. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“Events such as sport without fans or liberal socialising is a challenge but it is not impossible and we want to demonstrate that.

“A planned networking lunch for 30 people has been cancelled in line with the most recent government announcement. I, along with our board of directors, have discussed whether the event should go ahead or not but on balance and trusting that the organisers and participants all accept their own level of responsibility, the tournament will go ahead.

“Of course, if anything changes again between now and next week we all have to be agile to meet any additional regulations and ensure it is as Covid-secure as possible.

“As a society we all have a duty to continue to follow and respect government guidelines. We must operate our lives and businesses responsibly within them to prevent another lockdown.

“Liaising with local authority Environmental Health and planning departments is required, along with a full risk assessment, track and trace and contingency plans. Providing these are all followed, people must understand this is a collective effort to mitigate risk.

“Covid-19 is a moving obstacle and it’s imperative we learn to work conscientiously with the challenges.

“Golf is a highly popular international sport. Golf tourism is lucrative in the UK, as Scotland has proved successfully. Yorkshire can and will compete.”

A stellar cast of senior golfers has been assembled, led by Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion. His fellow former Ryder Cup captain Mark James is in action, along with Richard Finch, Stephen Dodd and Andrew Oldcorn. Former Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew is also in the field.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson