BIGGA, PGA and GCMA – the associations whose members run and maintain golf clubs – have offered further advice to golfers and operators on how to play during the Covid-19 crisis

Note: This story was written before the Prime Minister’s announcement imposing strict curbs on movement in the fight against the coronavirus. Click here for the latest.

Golf’s three professional bodies – The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) and British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) have issued new guidance on what to do when playing and how to do it safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

With current government restrictions not currently preventing competitions or casual games taking place, the trio have maintained “all golfers should follow some simple steps to maintain the low risk of infection”.

They have collated a series of best practice ideas that other governing bodies and golf clubs are beginning to adopt to ensure players and staff can stay safe. These are:

Prior to the game

  • Prioritise online services for entries, bookings, and scoring
  • Take payments using contactless means or online prior to the game
  • Players with any colds or coughs or any symptoms of Covid-19 should be asked not to play
  • Locker rooms should be closed to avoid players being near each other. Allow the changing of shoes in the car park
  • Shotgun starts with people congregating before and after are discouraged for the time being
  • Putting green closure should be considered for larger events
  • Golf buggies should be taken out of use or used by single individuals and cleaned afterwards

On the course

  • Insist on social distancing (2-metre rule) on tee grounds, greens and throughout the rounds
  • Always leave the flag in the hole. Ask golfers to carefully remove their golf ball from the hole, not with a golf club
  • Remove rakes and any other pieces of course furniture that golfers may touch – the greenkeeper team will prepare the course, and where possible, re-rake bunkers during the day. Golfers can and golfers can wipe their own golf balls on a towel
  • No divot bags provided
  • Drinking fonts and ball cleaners taken out of play
  • Air lines for cleaning shoes following the round should be closed
  • Golfers should only pick their own ball up
  • Do not share any equipment, such as golf clubs or rangefinders
  • Don’t shake hands before or after your game
  • Have hand sanitisers available as golfers leave the golf course

After the game

  • Handling of scorecards is a vulnerability, especially for staff members tasked with checking cards and finalising results. Arrange for this to be done online where possible
  • Adjust your catering provision to reduce physical contact through greater space between seating in the clubhouse if possible
  • Use disposable plates and cups, have hand washing facilities available on every table
  • Hand sanitisers should be made available throughout the clubhouse
  • Regular changing of towels in bathrooms (advice recommends every hour) would be required and regular cleaning of surfaces including door handles
  • Society bookings where food and social interaction is involved afterwards should be limited in accordance with the latest guidance
  • Follow Government advice as mandatory closure of clubhouses may be introduced in the coming days

Robert Maxfield, PGA chief executive, said: “We need to work together as an industry. By following positive but sensible set of guidelines which we can all adhere to and then communicating those to golfers, we can continue to enjoy the sport in the months to come. The game can offer a level of social interaction which will be vital for certain sections of the community.”

Phil Grice, GCMA chairman, added: “We are aware that these are very uncertain times for all businesses and their employees and golf clubs are no exception. This also follows a difficult winter where many clubs have already been severely impacted.

“The wellbeing of our teams, including catering, course and professional staff and their teams should be a priority for the operators of golf clubs and volunteer committees.

“Many are self-employed – PGA Professionals especially – and are facing a difficult period where all aspects of their business – retail, lessons, anything that requires day to day interaction – will be severely limited.”

For the full document, visit the PGA’s Covid-19 hub. For up-to-date information about the coronavirus outbreak, visit the NHS website.

Are you planning to support your club by playing at the weekend? What measures are your club taking to reduce the coronavirus risk? Let me know in the comments or tweet me.