Coronavirus FAQs on the return of golf (Updated 19th May)
England Golf (EG) has fielded a large number of calls, emails and messages via social media about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on golf.
In response they have issued an FAQs document dealing with these - it reads as follows:
Our staff have been working hard to reply to each individual and club query and we thank you all for turning to us for advice and support in these unprecedented times. We appreciate your patience while we dealt with your questions.
Given the volume of enquiries, we felt it would be useful to compile a series of FAQs complete with answers, guidance and signposting to other relevant authorities. These are published below.
Q – What is the permitted format for groupings on golf’s return from 13 May?
A – According to latest government regulations, the following golf groupings are permissible:
Two-balls with players from different household
Two-balls with players from same household
Three or four-balls with players from the same household (only at the club’s discretion)
Q – Can others join players on course? (i.e. caddies/helpers)
A – A solo golfer may be accompanied by either a household member or a person from outside their household. In the case of the latter example, social distancing rules must be observed.
Existing groups of two, three or four golfers cannot be joined on course by anyone else.
Q – Can outdoor practice areas, nets and putting greens remain open?
A – It is recommended practice areas, including practice nets, are closed unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed.
Clubs/facilities should consider procedures for the putting green to make it easy for social distancing rules to be followed. (i.e giving priority of use to the player/s in the next group due to tee off.)
Q – Can over 70s play golf?
A – This decision is down to the individual golfer. The advice for clinically vulnerable groups remains the same. If you are in this group you are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household. Further advice here
If you are living in a household with a possible COVID-19 infection or if you are classified as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, the guidance (here) is that you should remain at and exercise at home.
Q – Can all driving ranges re-open?
A – After consultation with government on this matter it is not possible to provide a definitive answer. The variable nature of range construction and outdoor and indoor elements of their use means there cannot be a blanket response to this question.
Driving ranges contain a number of hard surfaces and remain a high risk area for the spread of COVID-19.
If you are considering opening your driving range, you should carry out a comprehensive risk assessment considering current government advice. You may also want to check specific queries with Environment Health and Trading Standards in your local area.
Full government guidance on opening outdoor facilities can be found here
Q – How many rounds can an individual play in a week?
A – Under the unlimited exercise guidance from government, there is no ceiling on how many rounds an individual can play while following all the rules.
Golf clubs may, however, in the interests of fairness, choose to limit the number of rounds an individual may play in a week.
Q – Do golfers need to nominate one individual from outside their household to play golf with or can they play with a different person each time they tee up?
A – If playing in a two-ball format, golfers may choose a different playing partner every time they tee it up. Social distancing rules must be observed at all times and golfers should be mindful of the increased risk by widening the scope of their social contacts.
Players from two separate households cannot play in three or fourball groupings.
Q – Can pro shops open?
A – Under recent guidance from the government relating to small retailers, pro shops cannot open to operate any “over the counter” transactions.
It is permissible for their premises to be open in order for tee-time booking systems to be successfully operated. Strict social distancing guidelines must be followed.
Q – Can the pro shop offer online service or offer a click and collect style service?
A – As long as club staff adhere to social distancing guidelines in the workplace, pro shops can offer online and click and collect services. Full guidance for the operation of PGA professional services can be found here.
Q – Can golf clubs sell takeaway food?
A – Yes, provided food is only consumed on the course or away from the premises. Payments should be contactless or made during pre-order. Clubs are reminded outdoor seating areas around the clubhouse should not be in use at this time.
Q – Can PGA professionals and clubs provide tuition/coaching?
A – The UK Government has confirmed that only one-to-one coaching is permissible under strict infection control measures, observing social distancing and must take place outside.
In order to comply with this regulation, you should enforce strict hygiene measures and it is recommended that PGA professionals complete a comprehensive risk assessment and refer to the coaching guidelines on the PGA COVID-19 resource hub. Further guidance can be found here.
Q – Is club fitting by PGA professionals permissible?
A – Club fitting is allowed but should take place outdoors in accordance with good hygiene practices and social distancing rules and after an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.
Q – Is insurance cover provided by England Golf to members of affiliated golf clubs valid?
A – As long as golf courses are legally open for play then current insurance cover remains valid.
Q – What is the current advice for juniors playing the game at a time of restricted play?
A – We have developed safeguarding procedures for children and vulnerable adults during Covid 19, especially during the early phases, where social distancing will be heavily enforced. Click here
Q – Can clubs run competitions?
A – It is recommended that non-competition play is used during the initial period of golf being played, and that stroke play competitions involving players in different groups are avoided.
If competitive stroke play is played, a method of scoring needs to be used that does not require any handling or exchanging of scorecards. Find the full guidance document here.
Q – Can buggies and trollies be used?
A – Individuals can use their own buggies and trollies. These should not be shared.
It is a decision for facility managers whether or not they hire out equipment.
We would expect them to follow sensible precautions and clean equipment after every use.
Q – Can benches be used?
A – Clubs must cover or remove all benches / seating from the course and clubhouse area if possible. If benches are not covered or removed, golfers should act responsibly and avoid use.
Q – Can golf clubs open toilet facilities?
A – Yes. If you opt to open your building for these purposes, there are a number of things you can do to help minimise risks and avoid accidental gatherings.
Ensure clear signage is in place so people can find their destination quickly. Look at how people walk through your building and consider how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers. For example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible. Use outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example car parks.
Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas. Limit the number of customers in the building, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces.
Within toilets look at the following best practice:
Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm
Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards
Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
Replacing hand dryers with paper towels in handwashing facilities
Minimising use of portable toilets
Q – What are the details of business rate relief and government support for golf clubs?
A – The UK Government has introduced a number of measures to help businesses deal with the economic impact of the current COVID-19 outbreak. For details click here
Q – How do golf clubs access the 80% wage contribution for retained workers from government?
A – Details of government policy on the furloughing of retained staff can be found here
Q – Apart from these government schemes, is there any other funding potentially available to golf clubs?
A – Sport England has announced a Community Emergency Fund (31 March). This aims to help community sport and physical activity organisations who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. For details of eligibility and how to apply as a funding last resort, please click here
Q – Are England Golf part of any group lobbying government for financial aid for the golf industry?
A- England Golf – along with the other home unions and The R&A – are in contact with government on all matters regarding the golf industry. We will continue to champion golf’s cause.
Q – What help and advice can we provide to self-employed workers at affiliated golf clubs?
A – On 26 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced measures to mitigate against the financial impact of Covid-19 for self-employed or freelance operators. Details of the policy can be found here
Q – What is the advice for greenkeepers during this period now that golf has returned?
A – For security and essential maintenance purposes, greens staff can continue to work. This has been clarified by government and details of ‘essential’ work have been specified by BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association) and The R&A. Any work must be carried out in accordance with rules on social distancing and greens staff should consult with employers on work options. Greenkeepers can find out the latest details and contact BIGGA through their own website.
For more information about England Golf’s ‘Play Safe Stay Safe’ guidelines, please visit the Play Safe page
If you need to contact England Golf, individual department details can be found here
For the very latest on everything to do with COVID-19 and golf please go to England Golf website homepage