The news that golf courses may reopen from next week has been welcomed by Golf Ireland, which has also issued strict protocols for health and safety.
CEO Mark Kennelly said: “The golf community is pleased that courses can reopen from Tuesday next. Golfers welcome the opportunity to resume play on a responsible and safe basis, as they did during the May to October period.”
“The governing bodies are 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, particularly the travel restrictions that will remain in place until 18th December.”
“Earlier this year, Irish golf 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 the safety protocols”.
The following guidance has been issued by Golf Ireland to courses and players returning from next week:
- Golf courses can reopen from Tuesday 1st December, however golfers must not travel outside their county of residence to play golf. This also means that 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 below.
- From December 18th to January 6th, golfers can travel to another county to play as restrictions are eased over the Christmas period.
- 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 www.gov.ie 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 December 4th while following strict physical distancing and hygiene guidelines (please consult www.gov.ie for details). 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. All participants must abide by the domestic travel restrictions at Level 3 (see first two points above).
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.
- Caddies are not permitted (exception: where the group of golfers and the caddies are from the same household).