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coronavirus

Golf courses in England get go ahead to reopen

We have a date that clubs will be allowed to open their doors in England after getting the green light from governing bodies
 

NOTE: The below article is from when golf courses reopened at the end of the first lockdown in June. For an update on when golf courses can reopen in England in December, click here.

If, like us, you’ve spent weeks asking yourself ‘When will golf courses reopen?’ then go and get your clubs out of the garage.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s broadcast to the nation on Sunday, golf’s governing bodies announced clubs in England will be able to open their doors this week.

A statement from the R&A, issued jointly with England Golf, the other home unions, the PGA, and other industry partners, said: “The UK Government has announced that golf will be able to resume in England on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.”

The governing body’s original message advised that all outdoor sport, including golf, had to be undertaken alone or within a household group.

But the Government, in a document called ‘Staying alert and safe: social distancing’, updated that advice on Monday afternoon – freeing up golfers to play with a friend.

It stated: “From Wednesday May 13, the government will also allow outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens – to open, but you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.”

England Golf later added that, under those Government rules, the following groupings would be permitted on the resumption:

  • Individuals playing golf on their own
  • Two-balls comprising of individuals from different households
  • At the discretion of the golf club, members of the same household playing in two, three or fourballs

They said further clarification was being sought relating to the “opening of professional shops and driving ranges as well as the carrying out of club fitting and coaching sessions”.

The initial statement only applied to England. Golf courses in Northern Ireland and Scotland remain closed for now while Wales followed suit soon after.

“It is important to stress that this remains an extremely difficult situation throughout the UK and we are acutely aware that many lives have been lost to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the R&A.

“The effects of the virus will continue to be felt for a long time to come. As a sport we must work together to resume play responsibly as and when the relevant Government determines it is safe to do so.

“We must ensure that the safety and well-being of everyone involved from golfers, to club staff and greenkeepers is maintained at all times. Golf clubs and golfers have observed the lockdown very well and must keep it up and act responsibly as play resumes.

“We recently provided documents giving guidance on operations and resuming play and golf clubs should consider this carefully as they restart their businesses.

“We also provided essential maintenance guidelines to help greenkeepers to prepare their courses for play. We fully appreciate the huge amount of expertise that exists within golf clubs throughout the country and this best practice guidance simply aims to achieve as consistent an approach as possible to protecting everyone.

“We are seeking further clarification from the Government regarding other golf-related facilities.

“The pandemic has already had a substantial impact on golf clubs and venues and the focus will soon turn to trying to recover from the crisis. As a group we will continue to do all we can to provide support and guidance in that effort.

“These organisations have come together to help golf in the UK during the Covid-19 crisis and, through the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, to work with Government to promote safe golf: The Belfry; the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association; the British Golf Industry Association; England Golf; the Golf Club Managers’ Association; Golf Ireland; the Golfing Union of Ireland; the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union; IMG; The Professional Golfers’ Association; Ping; The R&A; Scottish Golf; Syngenta; the UK Golf Federation; Wales Golf.”

At BIGGA, chief executive Jim Croxton added the return to the sport “must be done in a safe and vigilant manner”.

“Throughout this difficult period BIGGA and The R&A have collaborated to produce guidelines on the essential maintenance that is permitted to take place to allow golf clubs to remain in recoverable condition,” he said.

“The news that golf clubs in England are to reopen will necessitate an update of these guidelines and these will be issued in the coming days. There may also be a revision of essential maintenance guidelines for those clubs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are unable to open at present.

“It is vital that the resumption of play takes place in a safe manner and this includes a heightened awareness by golfers of greenkeepers and those working around the course. The industry guidelines produced recently are seen as best practice in this situation.”

This piece has been updated to add new Government and England Golf guidance.

Golf courses reopen: Essential reading

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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