Can we play golf during the Coronavirus outbreak?
BIGGA, The PGA, and the GCMA – associations whose members run and maintain golf clubs – have offered guidance to members, the wider golf club community and their professional workforce on dealing with Covid-19 health emergency.
Experts say the game can still be enjoyed, albeit with some modifications to ensure players and staff can stay safe.
All golfers should follow these simple steps to maintain the low risk of infection. These are:
Prior to the game
- Prioritise online services for entries, bookings, and scoring
- Take payments using contactless means or online prior to the game
- Players with any colds or coughs or any symptoms of Covid-19 should be asked not to play
- Locker rooms should be closed to avoid players being near each other. Allow the changing of shoes in the car park
- Shotgun starts with people congregating before and after are discouraged for the time being
- Putting green closure should be considered for larger events
- Golf buggies should be taken out of use or used by single individuals and cleaned afterwards
On the course
- Insist on social distancing (2-metre rule) on tee grounds, greens and throughout the rounds
- Always leave the flag in the hole. Ask golfers to carefully remove their golf ball from the hole, not with a golf club
- Remove rakes and any other pieces of course furniture that golfers may touch – the greenkeeper team will prepare the course, and where possible, re-rake bunkers during the day. Golfers can and golfers can wipe their own golf balls on a towel
- No divot bags provided
- Drinking fonts and ball cleaners taken out of play
- Air lines for cleaning shoes following the round should be closed
- Golfers should only pick their own ball up
- Do not share any equipment, such as golf clubs or rangefinders
- Don’t shake hands before or after your game
- Have hand sanitisers available as golfers leave the golf course
After the game
- Handling of scorecards is a vulnerability, especially for staff members tasked with checking cards and finalising results. Arrange for this to be done online where possible
- Adjust your catering provision to reduce physical contact through greater space between seating in the clubhouse if possible
- Use disposable plates and cups, have hand washing facilities available on every table
- Hand sanitisers should be made available throughout the clubhouse
- Regular changing of towels in bathrooms (advice recommends every hour) would be required and regular cleaning of surfaces including door handles
- Society bookings where food and social interaction is involved afterwards should be limited in accordance with the latest guidance
- Follow Government advice as mandatory closure of clubhouses may be introduced in the coming days
We understand that golf clubs will be coming under pressure but believe that with sensible precautions, many members and visitors may be able to continue to enjoy the game during these difficult times.
Robert Maxfield, The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) CEO, has stated: “We need to work together as an industry. By following positive but sensible set of guidelines which we can all adhere to and communicating those to golfers, we can continue to enjoy the sport in the months to come. The game can offer a level of social interaction which will be vital for certain sections of the community”.
We have always been aware of the wide range of mental and physical benefits that golf offers and it is now that these will really come to the fore. It is one of the safest ways to take exercise and interact socially with minimal personal contact.
For further information, a website resource for Golf clubs and golfers is being developed and updated regularly: COVID-19 Resource Hub
For up-to-date information about the Coronavirus outbreak, visit the NHS website