What does Brexit mean for golfers traveling to Great Britain?
Welcome to Stuff Golfers Should Know, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re taking a departure from traditional swing instruction to impart upon you all kinds of other useful golf (and life!) wisdom that is sure to make you the smartest, savviest player in your foursome.
Brexit, stage left! More than four years after the United Kingdom first voted to withdraw from the European Union, a trade deal has been signed, sealed and delivered. The member countries of the United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have gone their own way, while Ireland remains in the EU.
It’s a major geopolitical realignment, with sweeping socio-economic implications.
But we know the question that’s weighing on your mind: what, if any, impact, will Brexit have on golf, particularly on golfers traveling across the pond to play? Rest easy.
Though no one can forecast every wrinkle in the future, the answer in the short term is pretty clear. For the time being, industry experts say, Brexit stands to have little to no effect on golf.
For starters, one of the sticky issues brought up by Brexit — the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland — has been resolved. That border will remain “soft,” with no overt security checkpoints. You’ll be able to play Portmarnock Golf Club, outside of Dublin, for instance, then make the three-hour drive to Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland, without pulling over to have your passport checked. Phew!
“From a practical standpoint, driving across that border will be no different than driving from North Carolina into Virginia,” says Gordon Dalgleish, co-founder and president of PerryGolf, a leading golf tour operator.
Golfers winging in from the United States will be similarly unaffected, Dalgleish says, as the UK and the EU have signed an agreement that “effectively continues the status quo for North American routes.”
If golfers experience any differences at all, the most likely variable will be in currency exchange rates. Exactly how things will play out is impossible to say, but many economists expect the British economy to contract under Brexit in the long term, and for the British pound to weaken, making travel — and greens fees! — less expensive for U.S. visitors than they might have been had the UK remained in the European bloc.
Those are the basics, golfers. As for your other questions about Brexit’s impact on everything from trade and immigration to retirement benefits and fishing rights, those are topics for another day. And, let’s face it, another publication.