GOLF clubs in England can allow rounds to be played in three and fourballs from next week, under the new lockdown rules introduced by the UK Government.
Golf England has confirmed that the latest relaxation of the rules during the COVID-19 pandemic will allow the current limit on two-balls to be lifted in time for play on Monday, June 1.
At present, golfers can play with a member of their own household or with another player from a different one.
But from next week, the new lockdown rules announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Thursday night, will allow up to four golfers, from up to four different households, to play 18 holes in one single group.
England Golf confirmed the changes – the second in the phased return to play allowed – after consultation with Whitehall overnight.
While many golfers have lauded the speed of playing rounds in two-balls widely on social media in the past two weeks, clubs that have been badly hit financially during the coronavirus crisis have been pressing for three and four-balls to be allowed, to increase capacity and revenues.
The need to earn more cash from green fees is greater at pay and club clubs, in particular.
But private clubs are also struggling to meet demand from their members, who are unable to play while fewer players can access the course in two-balls.
Rules for coaching being checked
ENGLAND Golf has stressed that the impact of the latest Conservative government changes remain unclear when it comes to coaching by PGA professionals.
An England Golf statement said: “The PGA are working in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf to seek confirmation.
“Further guidance will be communicated once clarity can be provided.”
England Golf has also stressed it is essential that golfers continue to strictly observe social distancing and safety regulations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement added: “All other industry guidelines pertaining to the playing of the game remain unchanged from those issued ahead golf’s phase one return on May 13.
“While COVID-19 remains a live threat in our communities, we would ask everyone involved in the game to act responsibly, show respect and protect the wellbeing of golfers, staff and volunteers.”
Courses north of the border – including the famous Old Course at St Andrews – only reopened today (Friday) for the first time since the third week of March when the UK went into lockdown.
Welsh clubs were able to reopen on May 18, while it was two days later in Northern Ireland.
•For latest England Golf updates on the COVID-19 crisis click here.