GUI & ILGU release roadmap for golf’s return in ROI from May 18th

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The GUI and ILGU have released a joint set of protocols by which golfers must abide to ensure the sport can one day return to normal post-COVID-19.

As has been well documented, golf clubs can reopen on May 18th but it will be for members only initially and Government travel restrictions of 5 kilometres for essential journeys will apply. Golf, sadly, does not fall under the list of essential journeys.

The game’s governing bodies in Ireland have stressed the importance of sticking to these guidelines given the ever-changing face of this pandemic that has taken the world by storm this year.

Golf is in the privileged position of being one of the first sports to be given the green light by Government to resume and although the limitations on play, particularly in phase one of the proposed lifting of restrictions, won’t be to everyone’s satisfaction, the GUI and ILGU are adamant that players must appreciate it’s a long road back to normal for golf.

They have stressed restrictions that may have been eased could be re-imposed by Government at short notice, meaning golf courses could close again should the return to play protocols not be followed by golf clubs and golfers over the coming weeks.

The following rules are set out for golfers in the Republic of Ireland. The GUI and ILGU have said that upon receiving enough information from the UK Government, a similar set of protocols will be set out for golf in Northern Ireland.

Key points:

The document states that golf clubs looking to reopen must ensure that:

  • Members with colds or any symptoms of COVID-19 stay away from the golf course/clubhouse.
  • Physical distancing rules are observed by all members at all times in the car park, clubhouse and on the course.
  • Play is restricted to:

– members only

– casual golf only (no club competitions or opens).

  • Personnel are on hand to monitor adherence with physical distancing rules and the rules for golfers set out in this document.
  • Tee times are booked in advance online or over the telephone.
  • Daily timesheets are restricted to a minimum of 10, 12 or 14 minute intervals. Clubs may only choose one interval for each day. If clubs choose 10+ minute intervals, play is restricted to 1 golfer per start time. If clubs choose 12+ minutes, up to 2 golfers may play per start time. If clubs choose 14+ minutes, up to 3 golfers may play per start time. – (Note: these measures will result in a maximum of 60 golfers occupying an 18-hole course at any given time, this is around 55% of full capacity).
  • Bars/restaurants remain closed and off-limits as per government policy. Clubhouse access should be confined to use of toilet facilities and initial retrieval of golf equipment from lockers


The document states that golfers looking to play must ensure that:

In advance of play:

  • If you are ill or have symptoms, stay at home.
  • Schedule your tee-time by booking online or over the telephone.
  • Ensure that your group size is no greater than 3.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient numbers of golf balls, markers, tees to avoid having to exchange equipment with others.
  • Wash your hands and your golf equipment before you leave home. • Aim to arrive at the club no more than 15 minutes prior to play.

On the course:

  • Do not arrive at the first tee more than 5 minutes before your allotted tee time.
  • Observe physical distancing at all times on the course.
  • Following play of a hole, do not enter the next teeing ground until the all members of the group in front have played their teeshots and exited the teeing ground.
  • If you must use a golf buggy, it must only be used by you and cannot be shared with or used by another player during the round.
  • Do not exchange or share equipment, food or drink with other players during your round.

After your round:

  • Return directly to your car, change your shoes, put your equipment in your car and leave. Do not store your equipment in your locker.
  • Avoid entering the clubhouse. If you must use the toilet facilities, ensure you adhere to health and safety guidelines.

The rolling out of golf’s return will coincide with the Government’s five-phase plan that aims to reintroduce us all to each other before the summer’s out. What we do in the next few weeks, how we behave and react to what is a particularly strict set of guidelines will ultimately impact how quickly the golf industry can return to its feet. We miss the game as much as anybody and although these protocols won’t be to everyone’s taste, at least after weeks of waiting, there’s now an end in sight.


View the full document on Golfnet HERE

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35 responses to “GUI & ILGU release roadmap for golf’s return in ROI from May 18th”

  1. David Orr avatar
    David Orr

    I would have thought the GUI would have the imagination to suggest that a reciprocal arrangement be put in place in the short-term where all clubs allow members from distant clubs can play a golf club within their radius, where they are well outside the permitted travel distance???

    1. Richie avatar

      Makes sense David. Especially as only about 5% of people can play in their own clubs. GUI were completely blindsided by the 5km rule they never saw it coming or gave any thought to the implications.

  2. Donald Morgan avatar
    Donald Morgan

    Most golf is played in 4 balls. This suggestion is going to cause friends to fall out. Which one of the 4 drops out. I can’t see why 4 at 15 minute intervals is not possible.

  3. Tom avatar

    20k won’t get me and a lot others to members golf club nor will 5k get me and others to any golf club nearly 70 playing all my life but agree must be done happy golfing in Dublin

  4. Peter Whelan avatar
    Peter Whelan

    There is little in the GUI protocol that was not already in place at our club prior to 24 March. In fact the only real difference will be that 80% plus of our members won’t be able to play. Will the GUI reduce the membership cap for the 2 month period during which they have done nothing to further my interests?

  5. Christy avatar

    Forget about the 5km restrictions when it changes to 20km some members will still be too far away to play until 20th July.
    They can however go 20 km on public transport from the 8th June and on 29th June go to a cafe or restaurant which is safer drive a few kilometers in your own car by yourself no sense in this GUI should be negotiating on behalf of their members

  6. John Law avatar
    John Law

    What’s the travelling distance limitations for 20th July and 10th August?

  7. John Barry avatar
    John Barry

    I think the 5 km is crazy. This means that the majority of people will not be able to play. If you are stopped by the Garda and he asks is this journey essential he has the power to turn you back whether or not you are within the limits of the 5km.
    i think a little more though should be given before the 18th.

  8. Christy avatar

    You can travel outside your region from 20th July.
    Basically there are no restrictions


  9. Denis avatar

    I expect golf clubs will reimburse members during this down time!!!!

  10. Kieran Hoban avatar
    Kieran Hoban

    Will we need a timekeeper with us to let us know if we are on a 14 min, or a13 min interval, omg, this surely medical science gone mad. One minute making such a difference! Then it’s ok if I had just flown back from Italy the previous evening, and was not forced to self isolate to play with 2 others! It would just as well to leave the courses closed than try these shenannagins thought out in a hse office somewhere by faceless people.

    1. GARY STEWART avatar

      Kieran, you sound like one of those people for whom the rules do not apply to.

      1. Kieran's Hoban avatar
        Kieran's Hoban

        Well Gary, I have the option to play under these rules, of which I mostly agree except for the issues I have referred to,or not play until the situation returns to normal. It’s the teeing off that I see as silly.For instance, as one contributor has already said , you cannot drive until the fair way is clear., so what happens when one player hits a 200 yd drive and another drives 300yds does he have to wait 14 minutes plus! To get the clubs back to viability a bit of common sense can be used without this tee time messing.

  11. Chris Furlong avatar

    I can not believe the two organisations came up with such stupid ideas. If I’m reading right the club must use the one time slot for the day. I thought thrr government policy was the 4 friends could meet outdoors and keep their distance. Agree with comments re regular 4ball players who drops out? I really find it hard that the organisations representing golfers came up with such proposals. Crazy.

  12. Chris Furlong avatar

    Further to my earlier comment 5k from golf club not practical for most members as a lot of us live further away then that.

  13. Jim Halley avatar
    Jim Halley

    Are over 70s allowed to return to Golf also.

  14. Gerry avatar

    I live 8km from my club, my business is 3km from my club i will be leaving my business address to play golf. Gerry

  15. Gerry avatar

    If you live 8km from your club but your business is only 3km from your club,wats the story can you go from your business

  16. Jim carson avatar
    Jim carson

    Don’t agree with Denis’s comment about golf clubs reimbursing members during this ‘downtime’
    It’s not the clubs fault covid-19 has caused this situation. He should bear in mind the financial burdens still being experienced by clubs. If all or majority of club members thought like him there probably wouldn’t be a club to go back to when this pandemic finally goes into the history books.

    1. GARY STEWART avatar

      Hear Hear Jim. I wonder is he one of these floating golfers

  17. Davebyrne avatar

    Hi golfers ,.
    Can I get your opinion on this please . If a member joined and paid full subs on jan. Verses a member whom joined in jan 1″. But stopped paying there direct debit . should fully paid member maybe get a token credit .ie a months extension to there membership , compared to a direct debit Member whom on re joining will get same playing rights ..

  18. Ivan avatar

    You can pass everybody in shopping centre, on the foot path or everywhere in 2km distance but you can’t play golf where are max 4 players in group, you almost newer hit ball on same place, if you do pre-shot or shot or putt everybody is far away from you anyway . T-time 10-14 minutes between groups is for what? for distance? you can’t hit the ball if is somebody ahead of you ( your ball flight radius distance). what they’re doing. golf needed just simple change , T-box only one player allowed, otherwise all the time keep social distance . THATS IT !!!
    it’s very interesting you can’t get sick in shopping , work or walk but definitely you will get sick when you play golf in 4 people groups with always social distance.

  19. Richie avatar

    Agree with Jim Carson. My own club like most others is on it’s knees financially. If we start looking for refunds there will be no club. Also agree with Kieran Hoban we would have been better to leave the courses closed at least until most of the members can play. The 5km rule means that only a very small number of people can go to the course. Not worth the hassle.

  20. Brian Farrell avatar
    Brian Farrell

    Are people 70 and over cleared to play from 18th may.

    Are persons over 70 years old cleared to play from 18th.may??????

  21. Richie avatar

    Looked at the GUI roadmap document Brian.
    Can’t see any mention of age on it except that under 18s have to play with an adult till 29th June (which I dont agree with ) Same as everything else from the GUI about the re-opening of golf courses. A mess.

  22. Robo avatar

    I agree with a lot of the points raised but why is everyone so negative? The GUI are not trying to upset you but are trying to put together a proposal that people who don’t play the game (government etc) will accept. To those people, the proposal will look well thought out and out and a gradual return towards normal.
    Of course the travel restrictions should apply to golfers. Just because you have a set of clubs in the car doesn’t mean that you should be allowed to drive the length and breadth of the country.
    David Orr’s suggestion of reciprocal arrangements is a good one!

  23. Richie avatar

    You have a point ok Robo. Maybe we need to stand back and look at the bigger picture. I think that what is annoying most people is the the way the news was presented to us.
    On 1st May Varadker announced ‘ the opening of outdoor sporting and fitness facilities including pitches, tennis courts and golf courses.’ We were delighted thousands of people able to return to sport.Until the next morning when Harris informed us that the 5km travel restriction would apply. (Maybe we should have seen the 5km travel ourselves but many of us did not)This meant that 90% of people would not actually be able to play sport. In my club out of 430 members only 31 live within the 5km. The difference between a 5km and 20km travel restriction when travelling alone in a car to play sport does not make sense to a lot of people who are at the end of their patience levels after weeks of lockdown. When things don’t make sense people start to question what is going on. Anyway it is all making for a healthy debate.

  24. Brian Farrell avatar
    Brian Farrell

    Richie, over 70 definitely NOT allowed to play golf from 18th may.As of may 5th cocooning people
    advised to only leave house for limited exercise within 5km radius with no interaction with others
    according to Leo Varadkar and CMO.See Thursdays irish independent dated 7th may.
    Looks like late june/mid july earliest for cocooners to be back on fairways.

  25. Kieran's Hoban avatar
    Kieran's Hoban

    To just show how silly the ” proposals” are, if and when somebody says that moving the tee slot times from 14 min; on 18th may to 13 min; on 8th June, 1 min difference, well I have to concede these people are way above our golfers heads. On what do they base these suggestions, on what studies, on what logic! It appears to me it’s an abuse of what ever powers vested in them. I think this will cause severe resentment and possibly strife in our Golf Clubs.

  26. Conor avatar

    I wonder could clubs create temporary short term memberships for people within the 5/20km distance?

    Given that many members will be excluded from play in the near term, some clubs could have significant spare capacity and might welcome the business!

    1. Richie avatar

      Good idea Connor. It would help some people get a game. The GUI roadmap is telling us that only 60 people are allowed on the course at any one time. As only 10% of the members are able to play in most clubs because of the 5km rule that wont be a problem. ( 31 people able to play in my club )

  27. Brian Farrell avatar
    Brian Farrell

    For over 70 year old golfers the Irish Times on Saturday 9th may clearly states that this age group
    can indeed play golf from 18th may on their club courses provided of course they live within the 5km
    Enjoy your golf.
    Brian Farrell

  28. best drivers for beginners avatar

    . Stroke play is the most commonly seen format at all levels, but most especially at the elite level.A golf course consists of either 9 or 18 holes you do pre-shot or shot or putt everybody is far away from you anyway . T-time 10-14 minutes between groups is for what? for distance? you can’t hit the ball if is somebody ahead of you ( your ball flight radius distance). what they’re doing. golf needed just simple change

  29. Carol avatar

    This is absolutely information for the professional golfer. This golf course experience is awesome. Thank you for the post.

  30. leojhon avatar

    you are doing a great job, and up to date with technology

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