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When is Golf Coming Back - Golfers Have Their Say

By: Golfshake Editor | Mon 04 May 2020 | Comments

March 23rd 2020 will forever be etched in history as the date when the UK Government announced nationwide lockdown procedures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and in what remains a meaningful footnote for British golfers, it was the last day when their beloved courses were for open for play. 

Six weeks on, rumour and speculation has intensified about when restrictions may be loosened, and that golf could return in some manner. That chatter has only been intensified following the news that Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has declared that some outdoor sporting activities will be allowed from May 18, a move that has been welcomed by golf's governing bodies in Ireland.

Various dates have been referenced for a potential UK reopening of courses, whether it be May 11, May 14, May 18, May 25, but until the authorities make the considered decision, no one knows for certain.

At Golfshake, we wanted to gauge the views of the average golfer, when they believe the game will resume, what form it will take, and what they hope will happen in the weeks and months ahead, launching a survey that was responded to by just over 1,200, providing a wide range of perspectives.

Clearly, this is simply guesswork, as the 25% who believed it was too early to say reflects, but there is a momentum building towards the idea that courses will reopen by the early summer.

However, within the comments left by golfers, there is more insight, and a notable degree of caution inside the minds of many who took the time to complete the survey.

"Safety first for me, we all need our fix but patience is required until we can get a vaccination for COVID-19."

"After lockdown and we know that there will be no second peak in infections."

"As an extremely vulnerable person I will want to feel 100% safe from contracting coronavirus before contemplating restart."

"Should not open until until it is safe to do so. It’s just a game that we can do without to help the NHS survive and not spread the virus further."

"The lockdown must continue until there is a significant reduction in new cases and the death rate. Arguing that golf is a socially isolating sport as it is quite easy do maintain the 2m separation nullifies the intention of the lockdown."

"Good that plans are starting to be made, but I think as a large proportion of golfers fall into the older category, so caution should be the watchword."

"I suspect not before July, but the important thing is to prevent anyone contacting the virus. Next year would be ok, if we can wait for a vaccine."

"Social distancing is put in place for a reason, to protect us. we can't see the virus and we shouldn't be putting ourselves in danger. Life is too short. golf is purely fun and not essential to live."

"Until either a vaccine to COVID-19 or reliable track and trace measures are in play I can't see any viable method of relaxing lockdown or why golf should be exempt from the lockdown."

These golfers are rightly cautious about the prospect of changing restrictions too soon, instead waiting for the right time, a perspective that Golfshake endorses, but understandably, there are golfers who believe that it's logical for golf to be among the first sports to make a return to everyday activity.

"Sooner the better! With social distancing I think courses should be open right now!"

"As soon as possible as there is minimal risk factor involved for two balls maintaining social distancing and not using clubhouse facilities."

"If the Government would understand that we can comply to social distancing rules, this could accelerate the rate of return to normal life for golfers."

"When it is okay to shop crowded supermarkets and DIY shops, walk around open public parks for exercise, why is it not permissible to walk around a private park hitting a small round ball for exercise?"

"Government won't rush it back, even though it should have stayed open with restrictions."

"As a solo golfer, I can’t see why it was banned as I find it easy to avoid other golfers."

"Very disappointed that the courses are closed. It is a sport that makes it very easy to social distance."

"I’m hopeful that we will resume ether pairs or maybe singles at end of June beginning of July."

Golf returning is just one thing, but we now have an idea on how that will look, following The R&A's guidelines unveiled in partnership with many leading bodies, emphasising the need for continued social distancing and limiting of contact points, when it's safe to reopen. Golf is ready for that day, but are golfers prepared for the rules and recommendations that are destined to be implemented?

"I think most golfers would stick to the social distancing rules, if only two balls were being played, but unfortunately after seeing how many people are flaunting the safety rules, it would be too much of a risk."

"I would hope some sense prevails as while we play a round of golf normally, we would not be within the desired social distancing of two metres for most of the round. With the social distancing restrictions in place, I'm sure golfers can maintain the required clearance between one another when on the greens and on the tees, so I'm hoping for an earlier release of the restriction of playing golf."

"Golfers will abide by social distancing rules on the course as they abide by all other rules on the course."

"With two ball games many will get frustrated at non-availability of tee times?"

"Any return too soon will be spoiled by the nonchalant members too high and mighty to adhere to the guidelines."

"Golf should be relatively safe, but may be seen as elitist if allowed before other sports."

"Easier to maintain social distancing on a golf course. Happy that clubhouses remain shut, but curious how visitors would pay for play."

"No point in coming back early. The whole golfing experience needs clubhouse, bar and driving range to be as safe as a round as there is no guarantee of safety prior to your arrival in those places."

"I think it would be more than reasonable to start opening golf courses for play at the start of June. This may and should be done on a gradual basis, limiting tee times to pairs only and spacing them out sufficiently, but at least members should be allowed out under controlled circumstances. Clubhouses and bars may have to impose very strict limits but it would be wonderful if they could offer at least a drink and a snack after a round."

"Unfortunately golf club members are just as bad as everyone else when it comes to social distancing and abiding by Government lockdown guidelines."

"Golf is unnecessary right now, as it was the weekend before all courses were forced to shut down, but it didn't stop competitions being played at my club and a large group of members thinking they are above everyone else and can do as they please. Some even had the gall to blame the general public for golf courses closing when the Government made it very clear no one should have made any unnecessary journeys that weekend but some still think golfers are exempt from this, they are not."

"Courses and players did not follow guidelines before lockdown. My home still had ball cleaners and rakes on the course and the holes were the usual depth so you had to remove the flag to retrieve your ball. This was on the morning of lockdown."

Those are the views of golfers who responded to our recent survey, reflecting on the possibility of when golf will return, and the manner in which that reopening is likely to take. 

Ultimately, play should resume when the Government deems it safe, a decision that is hoped will come in the near future, but only at the right time as the nation looks to collectively emerge from this crisis.

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