Golf Ireland welcomes return to play in Northern Ireland from December 11

An aerial photograph of the front nine holes in the sand dunes at Portstewart Golf Club (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

​Golf Ireland has welcomed the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision on Friday last that golf courses can reopen from Friday, 11th December. This decision means that golf can resume subject to strict health protection protocols.

Mark Kennelly, Golf Ireland CEO said: “The golf community is pleased that courses can reopen from Friday next. Golfers welcome the opportunity to resume play on a responsible and safe basis, as they did until the date of the last closure on Friday 27 November.

“The governing body is issuing renewed guidance to our member clubs today and we strongly urge all golfers to continue to fully adhere to these protocols which are aimed at keeping golf and the wider community safe while the Covid-19 pandemic remains such a serious threat. We also ask golfers to fully comply with the wider public health restrictions as set out at .

“Earlier this year, Golfers on the island of Ireland demonstrated how our sport could be enjoyed by women and men of all ages in a safe and secure environment. As golf resumes, we hope that golfers enjoy their play but continue to be vigilant in adhering to all the safety protocols.”


Following the statement from the Northern Ireland Executive, golf clubs and golfers must adhere to the following:

  • Golf courses can reopen from Friday 11th December.
    Golfers in counties either side of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must adhere to the restrictions that apply in both jurisdictions. Further guidance for golfers and golf clubs is contained in the General Guidance document attached.
  • There should continue to be no organised social gatherings, of any size, at the facility. All golf activities should be organised on the basis of arrival-play-depart without delay. Shotgun starts are not compatible with this guidance as they create large gatherings.
  • All retail, including pro shops, can reopen while adhering to strict physical distancing and hygiene guidelines (please consult for details).
  • Daily timesheets are restricted to a minimum of 8, 9 or 10 minute intervals. Clubs may only choose one interval for each day. If clubs choose 8+ minute intervals, play is restricted to 2 golfers per start time. If clubs choose 9+ minutes, up to 3 golfers may play per start time. If clubs choose 10+ minutes, up to 4 golfers may play per start time.
  • Tee times are booked in advance online or over the telephone. Clubs must ensure that players names (including members’ guests) are recorded on timesheets and timesheets must be kept for a period of at least 6 weeks to assist with contact tracing should the need arise.
  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars that serve food, can reopen from 11 December, serving until 10.30 with everybody out by 11 pm. Strict physical distancing and hygiene guidelines (please consult for details), must be followed at all times. In the meantime, restaurants can continue to offer a takeaway service only.
  • Golf activities at club level may be resumed, including those which are acceptable for handicapping purposes, where such conditions can be met under the World Handicapping System.
  • As no more than 15 persons can gather in any outdoor setting – group bookings MUST be managed to ensure that this does not occur. Individual golfers MUST be given their own time and only permitted to arrive at the venue a minimum of 15 mins before this time.

In addition, golf clubs and golfers are asked to ensure the following:

  • Members, visitors and staff with colds or any symptoms of COVID-19 must stay away from the golf course/clubhouse.
  • Physical distancing rules are observed by all members and their guests at all times in the car park, clubhouse and on the course.
  • Personnel are on hand to monitor adherence with physical distancing rules and the rules for golfers set out in this document.
  • Those aged 70 years and over and the medically vulnerable should exercise judgement regarding the extent to which they engage with others and in activities outside home.
  • Training: Outdoors – non-contact training only in pods of up to 15. Indoors – individual training only.
  • Players are instructed not to touch the flag or flagstick.
  • Rakes are removed from the course. Players are requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club. (See Appendix 2 as previously published for measures which can be taken in qualifying situations)
  • Hire trolleys (electric and pull trolleys) must be sanitised prior to each use.
  • Caddying on a casual/friendly basis continues to be discouraged unless by a member of the player’s own household or if a member requires a caddy/guide due to having a disability or an additional need(s).

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