A roadmap for getting golf open again

John Shortt

Castleknock Golf Club

As golfers we’ve long known that the game lends itself to social distancing, sometimes more than we would like, and so it came as no real surprise when Prof. Sam McConkey said to the Irish Times last week that golf could be one of the earlier sports to come back on stream following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. McConkey reiterated these comments this week in the Independent and while this represents some potentially good news for Irish golfers in a time when we’re starved of positive news stories, it will ultimately be up to Government and we have to wait and see what restrictions lift on May 5th and what the plan will look like for further restriction lifting after that date.

Of course, golf hasn’t stopped everywhere. It is still being played in Sweden, the Slovak Republic and Estonia while Denmark opened up golf courses again in recent weeks and Australia now permits golf to be played. If you believe social media accounts, it’s also still being played in various states in the USA and we can learn many lessons (both good and bad) from the various initiatives and procedures that these countries have in place for golf to continue at little risk.


What Irish golf will look like when we do get back to playing is anyone’s guess; at what level we will initially be able to get on the course again is also up for debate. Suffice to say that it will be a very different game to the one we left behind a few short weeks ago and there will need to be specific restrictions imposed to allow for social distancing.

With this in mind, one of Ireland’s leading golf course management & consulting companies, Carr Golf, have produced a fantastic framework for golf’s return entitled, “A Practical Guide to Golf During COVID-19”. It’s a concise, well thought-out and very realistic guide to what golf courses should be looking to implement when they get the green light.

YOU CAN READ THE DOCUMENT HERE but if you’re hoping to read about club competitions and dinners in the clubhouse after your round then you’re going to be disappointed. However, in terms of the practicalities of getting golf courses back open and getting people playing again, it is superb and something that will give hope to us all.

Marty Carr, CEO of Carr Golf commented; “Golf is opening up and getting played again in countries across the world. The game delivers obvious physical and mental health benefits, and like hundreds of thousands in Ireland, I love it.

“When it resumes here, our first priority is the safety of our customers and staff. We’re confident our robust operating model will provide a safe environment for golfers to enjoy a round with peace of mind. Our management and maintenance processes are under constant review and will evolve in line with government advice and direction.”

The practical guide, which has been disseminated among members of the various properties under the management of Carr Golf today covers a number of topics;

Ensuring Staff Safety – one of the key components is ensuring golf club staff can remain safe

Course Access – who is allowed to play

Booking & Arrival – how bookings can be made and how information can be used to curb the spread of Covid-19

Check-in & Pro Shop Protocol – policies around pro-shop entry, purchases & staff interaction

Clubhouse Facilities – a list of the facilities at the club which can be used and what restrictions are in place to ensure they can be used safely

First Tee & On Course Etiquette – introducing a ‘Social Distancing Marshall’, how many people can play, at what times and how to handle course restrictions such as flagsticks, rakes, holes etc.

Getting Home Safely – post-round policies to ensure you can leave the course & return home safely

With any luck this will mean an end to the home practice nets, putting in the living room and perhaps the video tips from seemingly everyone which have clogged social media feeds for the last few weeks! It was fun for a while but if golf courses can implement these procedures set out by Carr Golf then perhaps we can get back on the fairways sooner rather than later.

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29 responses to “A roadmap for getting golf open again”

  1. P,J.Byrne avatar

    First of all they would have to lift the 2kls distance which I imagine unlikely as many would travel to holiday homes,and you would have to wear a mask if you could buy one,

  2. kevin maguire avatar
    kevin maguire

    Why are you discriminating against the 70s plus… we have done our time as well

  3. Aidan Bagnall avatar
    Aidan Bagnall

    Hi. Yes I agree, golf should be allowed to continue. As long as I have played it people always had respect for their fellow players, that meant keeping their distance. Keeping your distance has always been a practice in golf, so therefore this is not new. Maybe to start they could limit it to a 2 maybe 3 ball and members only with 1 guest.
    I have said it all along, they are considering GAA and Soccer matches be played behind closed doors, well look at it. In GAA between teams, sub’s and backroom squads for the 2 teams you are looking at 50+ people in approx. 1.7 acres and something similar for soccer and when you think of it, these are both contact sports. In golf, if you are looking at a 4 ball you have 72 people on what?, 160/180 acres playing what is NOT a contact sport. Even if you reduce it to a 3 ball you have approx. the same amount of people in 100 times the site size. Anyway, that’s my way of thinking, I know there are those out there who will not agree, but all we can do is wait and see what happens. But all I know, if the lockdown on Golf is lifted we are one group of people who will respect it.
    Many thanks.

  4. Hugh avatar

    They are looking into the possibility of opening golf courses here in France also. The French federation have met with various government ministers and the signs are positive. The problem of handling flagsticks and rakes , and the numbers in each group per tee, are being decided. A period of 20 minutes between each group has been suggested. The bookings can be made on line as it appears the clubhouses will remain closed for everything except purchases of golf gear. It will be registered members only and they must live within a certain distance from the club, which is still to be decided. No matter what the restrictions all golfers here are looking forward to a real ,rather than a virtual, course soon It will be good for both physical and mental wellbeing. Here’s hoping it happens

  5. Tony Mitchel avatar
    Tony Mitchel

    Its not fair on greenkeeping staff who will be forced to work for little extra money than being safe at home protecting themselves and families by staying away. The only benifit are for the club members who are mostly elderly and in the at risk age group will get a bit of a walk. Most members are not living in 1 bed apartments and have space to get out and about anyway. Its hardly an essential service that helps anybody other than club members. Maybe if courses were being offered for free to people with no space to excersize at home i could justify the risk/benifit reward but this is not the case. Think about the big picture is it worth it?No

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