GOLF clubs and golfers must take appropriate steps to make sure they minimise the risk of infection from the COVID-19 virus, according to England Golf.
In general, golf is a healthy pursuit played in the open air, the game’s governing body said after the Government urged the public to avoid social gatherings, and pay heed to social distancing, earlier this week.
The risk to players, who are of good health and not classed in a vulnerable age category, is smaller than most other sports provided the expert advice is followed, England Golf said in its latest statement released late on Wednesday afternoon.
The vast majority of golfers can continue to play at golf faciliites across the country, it added.
However, golf facilities must be mindful of the older age profile of their membership, and understand it is only prudent to implement sensible policies to limit the potential spread of any outbreak, England Golf warned.
The online statement said: “Our championships involve large numbers of people travelling and working together to run a successful event, and we consider it impossible to ensure the safety and welfare of all concerned.
“Golf clubs should consider if it is appropriate to take a similar stance for open competitions on the basis of government advice on travel and other social restrictions.
“Clubs should also carefully consider if it is possible and appropriate for them to run club competitions and matches in line with current government guidance on social gathering and social distancing.
“These are unprecedented and extremely tough times for golf, but we would ask all our clubs and golfers to adopt a common-sense approach.”
Simple do’s and don’ts to reduce risk of infection from coronavirus
ENGLAND Golf have issued the following guidelines to clubs and golfers to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19:–
- Indoor, social aspects of golf club life should be curtailed based on expert advice on social gatherings
- Golfers suffering from or showing symptoms of the COVID-19 infection must self-isolate and stay away from their club. The length of time spent in self-isolation should be in line with government recommendations
- Vulnerable groups or those with underlying health issues should heed advice to self-isolate
- Golf clubs should prominently display public health posters available via NHS England’s website in all washrooms and at entrances to the course and clubhouse. They should urge visitors to follow the 20-second handwashing recommended by Public Health England.
- Install extra hand-sanitizers including on or near teeing areas and practice areas
- Golfers should be allowed to change shoes in the car park to avoid contact in locker rooms.
- Staff and volunteers – while taking precautions for their own health such as wearing protective gloves – should carry out regular cleaning of surfaces and door handles. Where possible doors should be left ajar
- Cash transactions should be avoided and card payments encouraged
- Clubs may wish to offer a takeaway service for food to minimise social contact
- Golfers should maintain a minimum distance of two yards between playing partners, especially on the tee and greens
- Encourage play in smaller groups – ie two-balls
- Increase gaps for tee times to prevent groups bunching
- Leave the flagstick in the hole at all times and clubs should remove rakes from bunkers to reduce risk of hand-to-hand infection
- Buggies should be for solo use only and cleaned after every outing
- Golfers should use their own trolley and clean it after every round
- Avoid handshakes and embraces in accordance with accepted etiquette – give a thumbs-up or similar greeting instead
- Do not hold group coaching sessions. Individual coaching should be based on expert advice on social distancing
- Greenkeepers should remove pins from practice putting greens
- A review of how practice balls are dispensed and cleaned is also recommended
The Golf Club Managers Association – in conjunction with the R&A, BIGGA, the greenkeepers association, and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) – has compiled a raft of advice for clubs on how to cope with prolongued or sudden staff absences.
England Golf added: “The UK government has recently announced financial relief plans to help small businesses.
“When more details become available we will update accordingly and signpost to online links.
“This remains a fluid situation and advice and guidance to clubs may change according to government and expert advice.”