Golf courses are now reopening even in the world’s worst-hit Covid-19 areas

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 20, 2020 10:18

Golf courses around the world, including now even in New York – the city with the highest coronavirus death toll so far – are reopening in a sign that golf is globally being seen as an allowable activity if any pandemic lockdown restrictions are lifted.

In South Korea, where the virus arrived weeks before it hit Europe and the USA, with a much smaller death toll than they would suffer, a professional golf tournament featuring nearly 150 golfers has now been scheduled to go ahead in less than four weeks’ time.

This follows the news last week that one of the world’s leading experts on viral diseases has stated that golf, along with sailing and horse racing, are three sports that can return provided various social distancing rules are adhered to.

Image from Twitter

Across the country with the highest death toll, the USA, golf courses have been reopening for the last few days. For example, last week Texas announced that its golf courses could reopen with almost immediate effect, while this weekend Minnesota announced golf could also be played again on its golf courses for the first time since the lockdown. All over Canada, golf venues have been reopening as well.

However, the most symbolic announcement came this weekend with the news that New York – the city which has seen more than 10,000 deaths so far and the state that has seen more than 13,000 deaths so far – announced that, even here, its golf courses, even in central New York, can also reopen.

Golf with a set of social distancing restrictions had been allowed in most of the state until April 9, when its governor, Andrew Cuomo, expanded the definition of “non-essential” businesses to include golf with a complete shutdown.

Restrictions will still be severe. All clubhouse facilities remain closed to the public, restaurants can only offer take-out or delivery services, the only staff allowed to work are greenkeepers and security, and green fees are encouraged to be purchased online.

Clubs that have reopened have typically stated that golfers can not use buggies and six feet of social distancing is required for every person on the course.

One county legislature chair issued this statement on Sunday:

‘Golfers may walk the course and carry their bags. Golf carts will not be available as there will be no staff to sanitize them. Clubhouses and locker rooms will not be open. Landscapers will be allowed on the course as well as security personnel to ensure golfers are maintaining six feet of social distance.’

Several golf clubs took to Facebook to tell the world that their venues were open and golf could be played.

This follows recent reopenings of golf courses around the world, including in Denmark, and now also in South Korea.

In fact South Korea has become one of the first countries in the world to offer a date for next month when a sporting competition can resume. In this case it will be the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Championship, which will tee off on May 14, and will feature 144 golfers.

There is still no word when UK golf courses will reopen, but judging by comments from people in the industry on social media in the last few days, there appears to be growing confidence that the game will resume with restrictions, also from May.

The Belfry Hotel & Resort is preparing for its reopening, by stating that it will donate its entire green fee income on its first day to a number of UK charities.

The Belfry

The donations from the resort’s green fees will support a variety of causes, from cancer, heart, kidney and Parkinson’s treatment, children’s hospitals and hospices, to charity trusts supporting ex-sportsmen. It also includes the two nominated Belfry charities for 2020, Matt Hampson Foundation and LoveBrum.

Katie Niland, sales director, said: “We want to share some positivity and support during what is an exceptionally challenging time for many charities who rely on donations to survive and show our support for the amazing work they do. At The Belfry, we have the pleasure to host many charity golf days a year, so we want to take this opportunity to give something back so they can continue to help those who need it most.

“We therefore really want the first day we open the courses to count.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 20, 2020 10:18
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  1. Alistair Dunsmuir Author April 28, 17:00

    Update: All golf clubs in Dubai are now allowed to reopen.
    Golfers must pre-book their rounds and wear masks upon arrival, where they will be given a temperature check.
    Tee times have been extended to 15-minute intervals, with a maximum of three players per slot. Buggies can only carry one person at a time.
    Other restrictions include the use of raised cups and the removal of rakes from the bunkers. Shower and locker facilities will remain closed for now.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jaynemarie Styles April 24, 07:14

    Probably two thirds or more of golf courses in the USA are open now. Illinois announced its golf courses are opening next week

    Reply to this comment
  3. Jaks April 23, 13:22

    All B&Q stores have reopened why is that any safer than golf courses opening and a lot of self employed people have started working again this week people will start to rebel soon and they can’t police the whole population if everyone rebels at the same time which will happen soon if this lockdown continues much longer mental health is just as much a silent killer as covid 19 and living like this is going to have repercussions that go on much longer than this virus

    Reply to this comment
  4. Wayne April 22, 19:45

    For all these State Governors (BAKER) that have closed golf, If you need your “safe space”, GOLF! Need to monitor your micro aggression, hit a little white ball, GOLF! Need to take a mental break from this government imposed shutdown, GOLF! Restart the economy, GOLF! GOV. BAKER, Get your hands out of your POCKET$, (No back door deals to be had) and OPEN GOLF!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Mark C April 22, 10:10

    Surely. It can be played & enjoyed an done so safely! The game can provide a service to many at this time, as one if they few outdoor sport activities. ~ the show must go on!

    In retrospect I believe we will learn there has been far greater exposure among the population as a whole & immunity greater than known across a larger population. Be safe, play smart & protect our most vulnerable citizens.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Michael JK April 21, 15:56

    Governor Kemp, in GA, took a real step towards reopening our state yesterday at his press conference. He has a plan to carefully get back to normal!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Kami April 21, 10:38

    Heartedly support The Belfry in its cause to help key charity organisations.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Luis D April 20, 18:27

    All golf courses should be open with safety restrictions. Grass doesn’t stop growing because we can’t play. Offsetting the high fixed costs while providing a physical outlet is a win-win!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Peter April 20, 16:34

    Sadly, bad decisions all ! For so many reasons ! Until we know, how many are infected, the rate of spread and true levels of how contagious this disease, shutdowns and distancing should be the norm !! Even in golf. In addition, especially in places like New York, golf will pay a price !! While people are dying, social elites are playing golf ? Not a good look and golf has suffered this reputation taint before and suffered !

    Reply to this comment
    • Biz April 22, 09:15

      Coming from Blackburn, Lancashire, a former mill town, I was typically born and raised in a two bedroom terraced house. We had no outdoor space other than a small rear yard which our only toilet was situated in. We didn’t enjoy hot running water till the mid 1970’s. I hadn’t realised that i’d joined the social elite just because I like to play Golf.

      Reply to this comment
      • Ab April 23, 08:25

        Elite? Maybe 200 years ago… Stop being so judgemental!
        I started playing golf with a £20 second hand set and £4.50 for 9 holes at my local coucil course!
        ANYONE can try and play a round of golf nowdays!

        Reply to this comment
    • AJ April 26, 11:51

      Peter very kind of you to put me in the ranks of the social elite, By the way Walking, Running and Cycling are all sports and people gain enjoyment from doing them does that make them Immoral at present

      Reply to this comment
  10. Sue April 20, 14:55

    This is not the right strategy for the USA surely?

    Reply to this comment
    • Sara April 21, 10:39

      I would have thought golf courses were safer than going to a supermarket. They tend not to be crowded, easy to keep your distance and if you are outside there is minimal risk. My view is we need to get as much as we can going again (I know the golf course is in America). The Chinese are already coming over here with a view to buying our failing businesses (per Telegraph 2 days ago). We are sleepwalking into an economic nightmare from what I can see.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Michael JK April 20, 10:52

    Golf needs to be open everywhere with the proper procedures in place. Happy to see that NY is now part of that growing group of states allowing patrons to be outside in a safe and healthy way.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Gerraint April 20, 10:38

    The concept of ‘essential’ in New York is different to the four UK countries. In New York they appear concerned with ‘essential businesses’. Here we are concerned more with ‘essential travel’. It looks like it’s not illegal for golf courses to open in the four UK countries, they are NOT on the list of businesses that must close. The problem is that it is likely to be illegal for an amateur golfer to travel to them, which means there is no point opening . The problem I would have is convincing a policeman that my trip to the golf course for ‘exercise’ is ‘essential’ when I would have to drive past three public parks on the way. For a professional golfer the situation is almost certainly different. If they were travelling to play in a competitive tournament for prize money, that journey would be ‘essential’ because they would be quite able to say they cannot do that work from home. Obviously galleries are a no-no for several reasons, it would be an illegal gathering for a start, and travelling to the course to watch golf would be non-essential and therefore illegal.

    Also in Wales the professional golfer would have to make ‘reasonable’ efforts that his employee, the caddy can maintain 2m social distancing from other people.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Simon April 20, 10:01

    Great to see this important and brave move by New York State. Hopefully the UK and Europe will follow this very soon, as we golfers all know how to behave by now, and the disease is rapidly becoming far worse than the cure for British golf courses.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Andy N April 20, 09:50

    Agree – let’s work a plan to open in a soft way and get us all golfing again. NB – Slovenia re-opens its golf doors today.

    Reply to this comment
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