Golf Needs To Join The Chorus For An EU Post-Brexit Visa Waiver

    March 4, 2024

Fair Comment; Spring 2024

There is an old adage in the English language along the lines of ‘never discuss politics or religion in polite company’. Since 2016, in the UK, there’s a third topic one should not bring up if one aims to stay on good terms with the gathered company: Brexit. However, I’m going to risk somebody’s wrath by raising the subject.

Recent analysis of the UK economy by Goldman Sachs has determined it is now worse off than before Brexit — which will come as no surprise to anybody who lives in Britain, and has a UK passport. The figure the analysts settled on was five per cent against other comparable countries.

But the fallout of Brexit is also having a detrimental effect in Europe, with the loss of free movement being felt in several sectors, including golf. Twice, recently, when visiting clubs on the Iberian peninsula, I found myself engaged in a discussion with GMs on the topic of young UK golf professionals. Previously, young UK pros would work a season at leading European courses, learning their trade and gaining valuable experience. Additionally, according to my GM acquaintances, they would, in turn, help to develop young, local talent, who don’t have the same history with golf, and, consequently, help service levels at the club improve.

For the club — and the GM — this was an invaluable by-product of the young pro’s learning curve. But that’s been lost now because of the rule that states they can work only 90 days in 180 before having to leave the Schengen area — unless they can obtain an expensive, and often complicated, work visa.

This doesn’t just affect young golf pros; more high-profile victims of this red tape are touring musicians and other groups from the creative arts sector. They want an EU-wide visa waiver for creative industries or a ‘cultural exemption’ from the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) — although there seems little enthusiasm for change from either the UK or the EU. Musicians are actively campaigning for more freedom and I believe the golf industry should follow their lead.

It need not have been this tortuous. An EU citizen can visit the UK for the full 180 days — but the UK Government, using the foresight and wisdom for which it has recently become world famous — turned down the opportunity when it was offered by the EU.

Maybe, this is just one more subject on which the UK Government should attempt a U-turn.

Posted by

Michael Lenihan

Publisher, Golf Management

A keen, but all too often frustrated golfer, I have been publishing Golf Management since September 1997, and throughout that period, have interviewed some of the best golf operators in world golf. I’ve also had the privilege to visit, and play, some truly amazing golf courses, and since 2018, have been the CEO of

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