Golf Courses to Reopen in England From Wednesday

By: Golfshake Editor | Mon 11 May 2020 | Comments

Since the UK Government introduced lockdown in the face of the coronavirus pandemic on March 23, golfers have been unable to play their beloved courses at a time when the season would normally be kicking off, but that is now set to change in England from Wednesday, May 13, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement on the next stage of restrictions, which has green lighted the return of a range of physical activities, including golf.

There was initial confusion as to whether Johnson's address to the nation specifically impacted golf, but governing bodies, led by The R&A and England Golf, soon confirmed that courses would be free to open on Wednesday, a move that had taken the industry by surprise, as reported by The Daily Telegraph.

"The UK Government has announced that golf will be able to resume in England on Wednesday, 13 May 2020. All outdoor sport must be done alone or within a household group and that includes golf. There is no change to the current position in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and so golf courses in these countries must remain closed for now.

"It is important to stress that this remains an extremely difficult situation throughout the UK and we are acutely aware that many lives have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the virus will continue to be felt for a long time to come. As a sport we must work together to resume play responsibly as and when the relevant Government determines it is safe to do so. We must ensure that the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved from golfers, to club staff and greenkeepers is maintained at all times. Golf clubs and golfers have observed the lockdown very well and must keep it up and act responsibly as play resumes.

"We recently provided documents giving guidance on operations and resuming play and golf clubs should consider this carefully as they restart their businesses. We also provided Essential Maintenance Guidelines to help greenkeepers to prepare their courses for play. We fully appreciate the huge amount of expertise that exists within golf clubs throughout the country and this best practice guidance simply aims to achieve as consistent an approach as possible to protecting everyone. We are seeking further clarification from the Government regarding other golf-related facilities.

"The pandemic has already had a substantial impact on golf clubs and venues and the focus will soon turn to trying to recover from the crisis. As a group we will continue to do all we can to provide support and guidance in that effort.

"These organisations have come together to help golf in the UK during the COVID-19 crisis and, through the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, to work with Government to promote safe golf:

"The Belfry; the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association; the British Golf Industry Association; England Golf; the Golf Club Managers’ Association; Golf Ireland; the Golfing Union of Ireland; the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union; IMG; The Professional Golfers’ Association; PING; The R&A; Scottish Golf; Syngenta; the UK Golf Federation; Wales Golf."

Previously, governing bodies across the industry had revealed essential guidance on how golf should be played once current restrictions begin to be lifted, recommendations that venues will now look to formally implement.

More detail is to be expected in the coming days, something that will be required for clarity, particularly following the carefully managed and expressed phased schedule of The Golfing Union of Ireland, who set out a roadmap for the game in the Emerald Isle. How close golf in England reflects that guidance remains to be seen.

Indeed, just because courses can reopen on Wednesday, it does not necessarily mean that all will, with consideration needed for preparation, both in terms of maintenance, the management of tee times, and the setup of clubhouses to ensure social distancing for both players and staff. Clubs will be in dialogue with their members during the coming days and patience is likely required.

Golfers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to wait a bit longer for access to their courses, but for those in England, this will be welcome news, providing them with the opportunity to make golf part of their lives once again, helping to keep active and improve mental wellbeing.

Recently, Golfshake surveyed golfers on the subject of the game returning, gathering views on what form it will take, and what they hope will happen in the weeks and months ahead.

Don't forget that if you are playing in the near future, the Golfshake Score Tracker is active, with our new tuition series, Get Golf Fit and Season Starter ideal to help you shake off any rust that has gathered during lockdown. 

As always, we want you to Play More & Play Better, but please stay safe when doing so.

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