Can English golf clubs now reopen pro shops and driving ranges?

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 12, 2020 08:07

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has said it will be raising questions with ministers on pro shops, driving ranges and golf coaching, as it currently remains unclear whether these can resume.

For now, golf clubs are being urged to speak to their local authority trading standards and environmental health officers, although ‘Covid-19 Secure Operating Instructions’, which should clarify these issues, are expected to be released shortly.

Golf can be played on English golf courses from today, and on Welsh golf courses from next Monday (although it is not currently clear if golfers are allowed to drive to Welsh golf courses to play the game), and while golf club bars, restaurants and changing rooms must remain closed for now, it isn’t clear if or when pro shops or driving ranges can open again.

England Golf has issued a statement saying: ‘We are aware of some outstanding questions on professional shops, driving ranges and coaching and whether these activities are in line with current government regulations. It is for individual facilities and organisations to develop their own guidance on reopening to best fit their own situation, but always in line with the government’s advice.’

It adds: ‘To provide additional clarity for all involved in the sport and to ensure people’s safety is paramount, UK golf bodies have been working collaboratively with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf who will be submitting a range of questions and clarifications raised by our respective members.  We will continue to consult with government throughout this process.

‘As we do not have definitive answers to these questions at present, it is for individual facilities and organisations to develop their own guidance on reopening to best fit their own situation, but always in line with the government’s advice. We recommend that, where there is any room for doubt, clubs and facilities pursue the simplest and safest option.

‘Further guidance on the safe operation of facilities is expected in the coming days in the form of ‘Covid-19 Secure Operating Instructions’. In the meantime, the enforcement agencies in relation to the restrictions are local authority trading standards and environmental health and those agencies may be able to provide advice in relation to particular questions.’

This comes as golf clubs in England have reported unprecedented demand for tee times in the last couple of days.

Richard Peabody, managing director of Club Systems, which provides tee time booking software to golf clubs and runs the HowDidiDo app, said: “This is genuinely unprecedented. I know that term is used a lot but I feel I’m using it correctly here.

“We had tenss of thousands of golfers trying to register with the site and app. And even though the vast majority already had HowDidiDo log ins, the extra pressure on the servers to verify membership securely and allow member online booking has, to be completely honest, taken us by surprise!

“At the same time clubs were using our email sending service like never before. On Monday evening we hit 1.1 million emails in that one day.”

There is still no word on when Scottish golf clubs can reopen.

“No further update will be issued from us as our stance remains unchanged in Scotland,” said Scottish Golf in The Scotsman.

Scottish golfers have even been told they face fines if they travel to England to play golf.

“We have quite a lot of members who live in Scotland,” Paul Terras, the head professional at Goswick Golf Club in England, told The Scotsman. “We have members from Chirnside, Duns and we have a lot from the Galashiels area. One or two have contacted me since the reopening of courses was announced on Sunday, but they are quite concerned that if they travelled here they could end up with a hefty fine. I don’t know if they are going to risk or not.”

Update: The guidance surrounding golf tuition in England has been updated.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 12, 2020 08:07
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  1. Warner May 14, 12:06

    Has to be the next step surely? Masks and all !

    Reply to this comment
  2. Debduff May 13, 22:42

    When do we find out if driving ranges are opening

    Reply to this comment
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