Any fears that golfers would be restricted to playing in groups of two when clubs unlock their gates on March 29 have been eased

Fourballs can resume when golf courses reopen in England after the country’s industry bodies laid out guidance for the sport’s return on March 29.

The document, ‘Covid-19: A roadmap for the return of golf in England’, also reveals professional and retail shops could open from April 12, along with outdoor catering facilities – subject to the Rule of Six.

It is hoped indoor catering facilities, which should include clubhouses, can open their doors from May 17, while committee meetings and AGMs will not be permitted in person before that date.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf met with industry bodies, including England Golf, the Golf Club Managers’ Association, and the PGA, to consider the impact of prime minister Boris Johnson’s four-step plan to ease the country out of lockdown.

They looked at the different aspects of golf and how they could resume within the Government’s timeframe – including playing, coaching, retail and club fitting, as well as looking at the implications for driving ranges and practice facilities.

They’ve separated what can and can’t be done into steps, with Step 1 covering March 8 and March 29. Step 2 comes into effect no earlier than April 12, with Step 3 arriving from May 17 and leading to the hoped removal of all restrictions from June 21.

The dates for Steps 2, 3 and 4 are all subject to Government review and the activities outlined are indicative of what could be expected for each of these steps.

But at every stage, from March 29, the industry bodies have outlined that golf can be played in fourballs.

Club, regional, and county competitions and tournaments are also permitted from that date, providing they are under strict Covid-19 controls and where overnight accommodation is not required for either staff or players. No national finals, though, will be staged before May 17.

As far as facilities are concerned, driving ranges will be permitted to open from March 29 providing they are outdoor, with all driving ranges expected to open from April 12.

Club changing rooms will be closed when golf reopens, though the use of indoor toilets will be allowed. They will be allowed to open once again from April 12.

For the full details, including information on coaching and what the guidance is for fittings and swing studios, visit the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf website.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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