THE East Lancashire Golf Association has cancelled all of its early-season events as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wipe out local sport.

This Sunday’s Frank Wharton Winter Fourball at Rossendale Golf Club is the first of four cancellations and comes after the association’s Annual General Meeting was postponed last Wednesday.

Matches against Lancashire and Bolton - which were scheduled for April - have also been postponed along with the annual Captains versus Secretaries get-together in early May.

ELGA secretary Andy Dean said: “This decision was made to fall in line with the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and England Golf before Monday night’s announcement from the Prime Minister.

“At that stage courses were still open and people, including myself, we still able to enjoy a game of golf providing certain guidelines were adhered to.

“Now, though, all courses have to close and this is a really worrying time for the sport.”

He added: “I encourage all members to support their clubs by sticking by them. We need the courses to still be there when this horrible virus is behind us.”

Prior to the announcement to close all courses, Dean praised golf clubs across East Lancashire for the way they dealt with the situation as many continued to remain open to ‘in-house’ competitions after the majority of sports across the country had been postponed.

“The local golf courses dealt with the situation really well, issuing clear guidelines to people who still want to get out in the fresh air and play. My club, Wilpshire, were sending daily updates about procedures and what we can and cannot do.

“Simple things like not removing the flagstick, not using bunker rakes and staying a safe distance apart are all easy changes to make that will reduce the risks.”

No decision has been made on the major competitions in the East Lancashire Golf Association calendar which include the Harold Ryden Cup which this year will be hosted by Accrington Golf Club in June.

“We also have the Handicap Trophy which will be held at Burnley while Nelson will host our Scratch Shield,” added Dean

“Both of these events are before the Harold Ryden Cup. We are not making any snap decisions on them but will look at them as things progress....a decision could be made in the coming week.”

On the global scene, professional events on the European and American tours have been axed, including the US Masters in April, with no clear indication as to when things will begin to return to normal.