Golfers should soon be able to return to courses after governing body Wales Golf announced that clubs are permitted to open

Golf clubs in Wales will reopen this weekend after first minister Mark Drakeford began the process of easing the country out of lockdown.

A statement on the Welsh Government’s website, outlining their intention to lift the ‘stay at home requirement’ in the country and replace it with ‘stay local’, said: “From tomorrow (Saturday March 13), four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens.

“In addition, outdoor sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts and golf courses, can reopen, and indoor care home visits will restart, for single designated visitors.”

Wales Golf said it was “looking forward to seeing golfers back on the fairways” and encouraged clubs to re-start reciprocal arrangements where appropriate – with “members being able to play at other clubs close to their homes while the ‘stay local’ rule is in place”.

“The overarching stay-at-home restriction will be replaced with a new, interim stay local rule in Wales,” said a statement on their website. “This will mean people can leave their homes and travel within their local area – usually within five miles – but this will be flexible, particularly for people who live in rural areas and for those whose nearest shops and public services are further away.

“If the infection rates continue to decrease, the stay local rule may be lifted on the 27th March.”

They confirmed golf will be able to be played with a maximum of four people from two households. Children under 11 and carers do not count towards the limit and they added that no society golf bookings should take place until further notice.

“Currently, clubhouse facilities, locker rooms and professional shops must remain closed,” the statement said. “However, toilets and washrooms are permitted. Therefore, controlled access to toilets will be required. Clubs must ensure toilets are regularly cleaned and well managed to minimise the risk of the transmission of the virus.

“Subject to confirmation at a later review, all shops, including close contact services, may be able to re-open on the 12th of April.  Click and collect services can still operate but collections must take place from a shop entrance or side entrance and not from inside a shop.

“Outdoor coaching can resume with up to four people from two households, inclusive of the coach (Children under 11 and carers do not count towards this limit). Organised children’s activities outdoors may be able to restart from 27th March.

“Outdoor driving ranges may be able to re-open. However, facilities must check with their Local Authority prior to opening. All Facilities must conduct full risk assessments.”

The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), along with the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA), welcomed the news of the sport’s return but said: “The incredibly short notice of just one day presents a significant challenge for the golf facilities of Wales to achieve readiness.

“There are many logistical challenges to opening a facility at short notice and a number of facilities will be part-way through significant on or off course projects that may take time to complete.”

The two bodies asked for “consideration from golfers and an understanding that courses may not be able to open immediately and, when they do, they may not be prepared to the usual standards golfers have come to expect”.

A joint statement continued: “It can be reasonably anticipated that limitations on winter maintenance and renovations caused by an exceedingly wet winter, restrictions on activities due to COVID safety measures and the potential placing of staff onto furlough to protect the golf club business will have restricted what the team have been able to achieve.

“Additionally 2020 saw participation at unprecendented levels which reduced maintenance opportunities and created more wear and tear on turf and other areas than usual.”

It added: “As golfers return to the fairways, we ask for patience and consideration of the activities of the entire golf club team, from managers through front-of-house staff and the greenkeepers who have, like each of us at some time in the past year, worried about their livelihoods, their personal health and wellbeing, and who take great pride in their work but due to circumstances beyond their control have perhaps been unable to achieve the high standards they set for themselves.”

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