Coronavirus golf: how to stay safe while you play

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Everything you need to know to play golf safely during Coronavirus.

Golf is back! (In England, at least. The rest of the UK and Ireland is having to wait a little longer.) But is it safe to play? What precautions do you need to take to reduce the risk of transmitting Coronavirus? With guidance from England Golf, we've put together answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to playing golf safely during Coronavirus. 

What group size is allowed?

– Individual golfers

– Two-balls (you can play with one other person, regardless of whether they are from your own household or another household)

– Three or four-balls with players from the same household (only at the club’s discretion)

Can others join players on course? (i.e. caddies/helpers)

A solo golfer may be accompanied by either a household member or a person from outside their household. In the case of the latter example, social distancing rules must be observed.

Existing groups of two, three or four golfers cannot be joined on course by anyone else.

Can outdoor practice areas, nets and putting greens remain open?

It is recommended practice areas, including practice nets, are closed unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed.

Clubs/facilities should consider procedures for the putting green to make it easy for social distancing rules to be followed. (i.e giving priority of use to the player/s in the next group due to tee off.)

Can over 70s play golf?

AThis decision is down to the individual golfer. The advice for clinically vulnerable groups remains the same. If you are in this group you are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household. 

Can you play golf if you are classed as extremely vulnerable? 

If you are living in a household with a possible COVID-19 infection or if you are classified as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, the guidance is that you should remain at and exercise at home.

How many rounds can an individual play in a week?

Under the unlimited exercise guidance from government, there is no ceiling on how many rounds an individual can play while following all the rules. 

Golf clubs may, however, in the interests of fairness, choose to limit the number of rounds an individual may play in a week. 

Do golfers need to nominate one individual from outside their household to play golf with or can they play with a different person each time they tee up?

If playing in a two-ball format, golfers may choose a different playing partner every time they tee it up. Social distancing rules must be observed at all times and golfers should be mindful of the increased risk by widening the scope of their social contacts.

Players from two separate households cannot play in three or fourball groupings.

Golfers must practise social distancing by staying at least two metres apart at all times.

Can pro shops open?

Under recent guidance from the government relating to small retailers, pro shops cannot open to operate any “over the counter” transactions.

It is permissible for their premises to be open in order for tee-time booking systems to be successfully operated. Strict social distancing guidelines must be followed. 

Can the pro shop offer online service or offer a click and collect style service?

As long as club staff adhere to social distancing guidelines in the workplace, pro shops can offer online and click and collect services. Full guidance for the operation of PGA professional services can be found here.

Can golf clubs provide takeaway food?

Yes, provided food is only consumed off the premises (i.e outdoors).

Can PGA professionals and clubs provide tuition/coaching?

The UK Government has confirmed that only one-to-one coaching is permissible under strict infection control measures, observing social distancing and must take place outside.

In order to comply with this regulation, you should enforce strict hygiene measures and it is recommended that PGA professionals complete a comprehensive risk assessment and refer to the coaching guidelines on the PGA COVID-19 resource hub. Further guidance can be found here.

Is insurance cover provided by England Golf to members of affiliated golf clubs valid?

As long as golf courses are legally open for play then current insurance cover remains valid up until the renewal date of June 30, 2020.

Can clubs run competitions?

It is recommended that non-competition play is used during the initial period of golf being played, and that stroke play competitions involving players in different groups are avoided.

If competitive stroke play is played, a method of scoring needs to be used that does not require any handling or exchanging of scorecards. Find the full guidance document here.

Can buggies and trollies be used?

Individuals can use their own buggies and trollies. These should not be shared.

It is a decision for facility managers whether or not they hire out equipment. 

We would expect them to follow sensible precautions and clean equipment after every use.

Can benches be used?

Clubs must cover or remove all benches / seating from the course if possible. If benches are not covered or removed, golfers should act responsibly and avoid use.

Can golf clubs open toilet facilities?

Yes. If you opt to open your building for these purposes, there are a number of things you can do to help minimise risks and avoid accidental gatherings.

Ensure clear signage is in place so people can find their destination quickly. Look at how people walk through your building and consider how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers. For example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible. Use outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example car parks.

Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas. Limit the number of customers in the building, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces. 

Within toilets look at the following best practice:

– Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm.

– Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.

– Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms.

– Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

– Replacing hand dryers with paper towels in handwashing facilities.

– Minimising use of portable toilets.

 Should golfers practise social distancing?

Yes, it is imperative that golfers (from different households) stay at least two metres apart at all times.