Reopened golf clubs across Europe are busy but struggling with new rules

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 10, 2020 06:39

Reports from across Europe where golf courses have reopened in the last few days suggest there is strong demand to play the game but venues have been fined and even closed down for not complying with new Covid-19 regulations.

In Portugal, where golf courses reopened on May 4, a member of one golf club, which predominantly relies on regular visitors from northern Europe for its income, wrote to The Golf Business to say: “The course has been busy from late morning until 1pm and then a few afterwards. Mainly local residents.”

He added that the club is not expecting to see visiting overseas green fee players in any significant numbers until at least September.

One of the biggest golf clubs in Portugal, Quinta do Lago, has produced a three-page manual for golfers regarding the rules they must follow in order to play golf.

Quinta da Lago

In Germany, according to The Scotsman, failure to follow the rules has proved to be a problem for some golf clubs. Some in Berlin had to close shortly after reopening, while one in Bavaria has been fined thousands of euros for re-opening before it was permitted to.

“Each club is controlled by its local authorities, and a few clubs in the Berlin area had to close directly after they had the permission to open again, because they didn’t follow the security rules,” said golf writer Petra Himmel.

“One club in Bavaria opened on Tuesday and made it public before they were controlled by the police and have to pay a 25,000 Euros fine for one day and every other day they open before getting their final opening permission on Monday.”

In France golf courses will reopen on Monday, May 11.

“The thing about golf in France is that we still don’t have very good press as a sport,”  said Martin Coulomb, who writes for L’Equipe.

“So, we as golfers in general have to be very careful when the courses will reopen to apply strict rules against the virus. We’ll have to show by example that golf is a sport that fully respects all the proper measures.”

Evian Resort Golf Club in France. Image by Tristan Jones

In Spain, some courses have already reopened, many will reopen also on Monday, May 11, but others still don’t know when they can resume.

“The Spanish Golf Federation thinks we will have around 100 of the 400 courses we have in the country reopen on Monday,” said Alejandro Rodríguez, who writes for “Madrid and Barcelona present the worst situation due to the coronavirus and we don’t know yet If they will be ready for phase one.”

In North America, demand for golf has also been strong.

For example: “It was about 15 seconds (after the announcement) that we had the first phone call asking to book a tee time,” said one golf club manager in Alberta, Canada, where golf courses reopened last weekend.

And: “We’re almost fully booked for the first 10 days of May,” said the director of golf at a venue in Chicago – where all golf courses reopened on May 1.

In Massachusetts, golf courses reopened on Friday, May 8. One of them, The Rochester Golf Club, was “mobbed,” according to a staffer. “We’re very busy. People are happy to be out.”

And in Australia golf courses are also reporting strong demand to play the game.

“I was itching to play golf, but my first trip to the course was really strange with all the restrictions,”  said Evin Priest, a golf reporter for Australian Associated Press.

“But, once people started to play, they became more comfortable and now my local course is so busy you have to book tee times a week in advance. My routine is nine holes every afternoon at about 3pm, chasing the sunset.

“It’s therapeutic and I’m not the only one who feels that way. There are lots of Australians trying golf as they have nothing else to do. It’s an escape from a subdued and depressing pandemic.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 10, 2020 06:39
Write a comment


  1. Jamie September 15, 15:00

    COVID is a strange beast. I’ve seen many businesses fail almost immediately during the outbreak but I’ve seen others flourish. Capitalism is fascinating

    Great read, take care

    Reply to this comment
  2. Alex May 31, 00:09

    This cannot even compare to the restaurant and clubs struggles…

    Reply to this comment
  3. Wayne May 10, 18:59

    Very interesting perspectives globally Alistair. Thank you for sending out. I live in British Columbia and golf courses are open now. Some have been open for 3 weeks and Alberta just opened up as you mentiones. Ontario is still not open for golf. People seem to be respecting the guidelines here. The UK and Ireland are later than others so it will be interesting to see when they open their clubs. I know that they will take a tremendous economic hit since Canadians and Americans cannot travel and get their links golf fix. I was supposed to be in Scotland last week hosting our group of good Canadian friends…

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ian W May 10, 18:49

    I actually live on a well known course. It’s unbelievable what you see going on. I sat for an hour watching a few groups, none of them conformed to the rules. Saying that most of them didn’t know basic golf rules let alone social distancing.

    Reply to this comment
  5. bossman May 10, 16:11

    Try living in Scotland. We are having to deal with walking, running and cycling, which can involve hard physical effort but are all allowed and golf which is a more leisurely pursuit is banned. Plus, Scottish golf as an organisation are useless in most golfers opinion with no positive representation to Govt.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Peter May 10, 15:52

    Focus and discipline !! When you watch the sacrifices all first responders and health care workers are making, you’ll realize how selfish it is, not to implement, follow and abide by rules !!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Raimund May 10, 10:18

    We don’t have any problems in Austria, except that you can’t have a cold one after play.

    Reply to this comment
    • Michael H May 10, 10:58

      Amusing how different the situation is from country to country…
      I spoke with a Friend in Sweden this week and „ROP“ in some clubs in Southern Sweden are up 100% for the first 4 months of the year!
      They obviously face different challenges due to increased traffic, and with green fee revenues in the same period down 30-40% it is going to be a difficult year for very different reasons.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Andy W May 10, 09:12

    Bit of a misleading headline, little explanation given as to what they are struggling with in particular, has the feel of clickbait.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Dayne May 10, 08:47

    Can you imagine the chaos we are facing in England!!

    Reply to this comment
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