Local golfers miss out on first day back on course – but cross-border rules row finally resolved
The bizarre, and, at times, bitter, “Llanymynech Lock-out” concluded in blessed peace on Monday night when the Welsh Government finally permitted the English members to resume playing on the borders course.
As England’s fairways on Monday re-opened following the latest three-month ban, more than 250 golfers were legally excluded from teeing it up at their club, despite some of them living just 50 yards from the entrance.
Telegraph Sport revealed on Sunday that the home course of Ian Woosnam, the former Masters champion, was up in arms after being told by Powys Count Council on the weekend that Lllanymech GC could still be played by Welsh residents but not, legally, by their English counterparts.
Restrictions imposed by the Welsh Government currently preclude English residents from crossing the border. Three of the holes are in England, with the rest in Wales and even though the entrance is actually on the St George side of Offa’s Dyke, Powys CC felt unable to give official approval due to the guidelines.
“The Welsh members were given permission to cross into England when the Wales Government allowed them to start replaying a few weeks ago,” Stuart Jones, the club’s chairman, said. “But now the Prime Minister has said England can resume, that permission is not being given the other way around. How is that not discrimination?”
The club desperately sought a solution, with appeals direct to the Welsh Government and First Minister, Mark Drakeford. However, these went ignored until the Telegraph’s story appeared. On Monday afternoon, a statement sent to the Telegraph from the Welsh Government’s press office appeared to have given the green light. “It would be reasonable for members of Llanymynech Golf Club to enter or leave Wales within the confines of the golf course,” it read.
However, Jones was still waiting for clearance from the council. Powys CC told Jones it was only there to enforce the law and would only act if there was a complaint. But with enmity running high between certain of the respective Welsh and English memberships there were fears that a complaint would arise.
In January, police visited the club when golf was locked down in Wales despite it still being allowed at the time under England’s guidelines. Llanymynech pays its fees to Powys CC, but is governed by England Golf. After the January episode, Jones was understandably wary and went back to the council on Monday afternoon, for official assurance.
“They say they are working with their legal team to try and facilitate a way around the guidance but they cannot promise anything,” Jones said. “Eventually, as the last golfers on the course finished their rounds, Jones received the assurances he and his committee felt were required.
“Steffan Roberts, the deputy director of culture and sport for the Welsh Government, has called me and apologised for the misunderstanding and said that ALL Llanymynech members both English and Welsh can cross the border as a reasonable excuse to access the course and play golf,” Jones said.
“I haven’t received the written confirmation which I requested, but I have notified the members anyway. They deserve to know and putting out of their misery – they can’t renege on this. We are grateful to the Telegraph for highlighting this issue and hopefully we can put this ridiculous chapter behind us and start to enjoy our unique course once again.”
The English membership – which forms more than two-thirds of the club – has lost a day, but will be delighted to discover that from Tuesday morning they are free to re-indulge in their passion. There will be relief in the club as whole. The committee had been divided on whether or not to open and tensions were escalating.
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