Golf clubs get green light to reopen as PM lifts COVID-19 rules on certain sports

The Government has announced that golf clubs can reopen from May 13, 2020, providing players stick to social distancing rules
Golfers have been given the green light to resume playing – on their own or with members of their own household ONLY, from May 13. Picture by ANDY HISEMAN / MAGIC HOUR

GOLF clubs in England can resume playing from Wednesday this week after Prime Minister’s address to the nation on relaxing some parts of the lockdown imposed to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

England Golf – the game’s governing body – welcomed the news allowing golf clubs to open for their members for the first time since March 23 when the Government introduced the ‘Stay at Home, Save Lives’ message to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the relaxation of the rules allowing golfers to play with one other golfer – who does not have to be a member of their household group – does not yet apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Governments in the other parts of the UK have so far erred on the side of caution, using devolved powers to keep the ban in place even though it will be lifted in England from Wednesday, May 13.

An England Golf spokesman said: “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.

“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.

Greenkeepers and clubs have been given advice on safe working practices during the COVID-19 crisis
England Golf, The R&A and other industry groups – including the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) – have issued guidance to help greenkeepers

“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.”

But while many people seemed confused by the change in the Government’s “Stay at Home” strategy, encouraging people to return to work wherever possible, the game’s rulers have stressed they are seeking guidance on other golf facilties, such as driving ranges after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday night.

The Government clarified that the change in the rules did not restrict golfers to playing on their own – or just with a member of their own household – on Monday afternoon.

The publication of a 50-page Government document explained the new rules in full.

Advice sought on driving ranges

The spokesman added: “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.”

England Golf has been in discussions with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, to work with Government to promote safe golf.

They have worked alongside other groups from the sport including the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), the British Golf Industry Association, the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA), the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), Ping, The R&A, IMG, the UK Golf Federation as well as the ruling bodies from the other Home Nations – Scottish Golf, Wales Golf, the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union.

•England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has written a series of updates to golf clubs and members during the COVID-19 crisis.

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