Golf doc: "Doing shopping carries greater risk" than touching a flag

Dr Donal Hughes cannot understand why touching the flagstick has been banned in golf's new guidelines during coronavirus...

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 12 May 2020
Golf doc: Touching a flagstick carries no risk of coronavirus

Golfers should still be allowed to touch the flagstick during coronavirus, according to Dr Donal Hughes, owner of Golf Central 

Despite receiving plenty of stick for his recent comments on social media, Donal has since published a video outlining his views on why touching a golf flag should not be banned under golf's new rules during the coronavirus pandemic. 



Donal, a doctor with a PHD in chemistry and 10 years experience in food safety, reveals that "doing your shopping" has much greater "risk" than touching a golf pin. 

The Irishman, who will get back on the course when the country reopens its courses on May 18, also makes the point that coronavirus cannot even be transmitted by handling as it "doesn't get through the skin."


"Okay, I've taken a bit of a battering on Twitter for my opinions on the coronavirus and the return to golf," said Doc Golf Central. 

"First of all let me say the GUI (Golfing Union of Ireland), in my country of Ireland, have come up with a list of guidelines and proposals for golf's return. It's great, it's comprehensive, and we will all stick by them. I am also entitled to my opinion. 

"I just didn't want us putting into a foam noodle, or giving putts from a two-foot circle around the hole. 

"I am also entitled to my opinion, and my opinion was that the risk of touching a pin isn't as great as, for instance, doing your shopping.


"All the thousands of products, when you consider the countless times a product has been handled as it's been produced, on the plastic packaging, other shopper's handling them, loading them onto the trolley, unloaded onto the counter, and bringing every single one of those products home with you into your own house.

"I consider that a much more viable risk, if there is a risk, than taking out a golf pin - that is just my opinion, and surely I am entitled to it.

"There is no need to belittle my PHD in chemistry or put my 10 years in food safety down, it's just an opinion. 

"Yes, there are studies to say that coronavirus is viable on plastic, but also there is nothing to say that touching the flag is dangerous.

"Also, coronavirus isn't transmitted by handling. It doesn't get through the skin - that's just another point and I shouldn't have even mentioned. 

"I am entitled to an opinion and I don't need to be put down. I'm always up for a bit of fun, but it's just an opinion. I just consider the risk of the two different things. There is no problem with you going to your favourite supermarket and doing the shopping and doing all of that. 

"I will, however, make sure I stick by the rules and do whatever it takes for golf to return safely, and I'm just glad we aren't putting towards a foam noodle or bouncing it off something crazy."