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.
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