The government will give golf clubs ‘two to three weeks’ notice’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 2, 2020 05:38

A new report suggests that UK golf clubs will this weekend be given a two to three week notice period regarding the resumption of golf.

According to The Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson now has a five-phased plan to return the country to normality following the coronavirus lockdown.

Golf will not, as has previously been suggested in press reports, be included in the first phase which will start the day after Johnson’s speech on Sunday, May 10, but could be in the second phase which will start ‘at the end of May’.

This means golf clubs will effectively be given a two to three week notice period regarding when the game can resume with strict social distancing measures in place.

A two to three week notice period would be in line with what the Irish government announced on May 1, when it stated that golf courses could reopen 17 days later.

It also shows how capricious the situation is, as in the last few days newspaper reports have suggested that golf could resume in mid-May, and then a ‘date in June’.

The paper also states that mixing with people from other households will not be authorised ‘until much later’ than next week, which comes just a few days after Scottish Golf’s new leader said it was ‘highly likely’ that the game would only return with people playing on their own or in groups from the same household. However, there is no mention of this in The R&A’s guidance to the industry.

The Prime Minister told the cabinet he will proceed with ‘maximum caution’ when it comes to lifting restrictions, after experts warned that outbreaks in care homes and hospitals make significant easing far too dangerous, the paper reports.

Garden centres in England may be allowed to open on Monday as the Welsh Assembly has stated that they can reopen in Wales on that day.

He is expected to announce only modest changes, with warnings that the actual rate of new daily coronavirus cases could be 20,000 and not the around 5,000 reported officially by the government, with 400,000 people in total having had it.

In the first phase, reports the paper, there will also be a return to sunbathing and picnics, more key workers’ children will go back to school, staff will start returning to businesses that stayed open during the lockdown and open-air markets may reopen.

‘The second stage at the end of May will then see primary schools gradually return with smaller classes and some outdoor sports such as golf and tennis potentially resuming – possibly along with open-air swimming.’

This follows the news that golf courses are being advised to prepare for a notice period of less than 24 hours in one of two scenarios.

UK golf courses could be given ‘just a few hours notice’ about reopening

However, some in the industry have told The Scotsman that an ideal notice period would be about 72 hours.

“Our club’s view is that 72 hours notice would be a reasonable timescale to ensure that we get all of the necessary bits and pieces in place to allow everyone to play safely,” said Uphall Golf Club’s treasurer, Bill Mackintosh.

“That way, we minimise the risk of anything going wrong or action being taken against the club for failing to comply with whatever measures are required.

“Members need to be advised of the conditions applying to golf. Tee time intervals need to be input, while booking systems need to be updated and activated and staff need to be recalled from furlough.

“Clubs need to be retrieved out of lockers in an orderly manner while, out on the course, tee markers need to be put out and holes need to be cut.

“Some of this can be done in advance (and we have a detailed action plan), but much depends on how many of the conditions we need to apply and what local variations are needed.

“Our head greenkeeper says the reason we have been able to keep things in good shape with a smaller staff than normal is that an empty course allows tasks to be done without interruption.

“He gave the example of cutting our fairways, a task which normally takes two man days – that takes 1.5 man days at the moment.”

Gullane secretary Gordon Simpson also believes it would be helpful for clubs to be given more than a day’s notice, especially in respect of the administration side.

“Ideally, we would obviously love some lead time into re-opening but course wise we could get this set up with 24 hours’ notice, no problem, although the course may not be 100 per cent how we would like it at this time of year,” he said.

“The difficulty is booking and controlling the tee times in such a quick turnaround as when we do open as we don’t know all of the regulations as yet.

“The last thing any club would want to do is open too quickly and there be some issues to attract attention from the authorities.

“We are all working on hearsay and gossip at present to try and devise a reopening plan.

“It would be great if we had clear guidelines to work towards, but I think the bottom line is that all clubs would do everything practically possible to get open as quick as they can to try and get our members back playing.”

“We feel that there’s going to be more than 24 hours,” said David Roy, manager of Crail Golfing Society. “I know that happened for the lockdown and that caused a bit of grief. In fact, it was extremely stressful, but the opening up procedure is going to be vastly different.

“Say it is Monday, 25 May, I think we will find out on the Friday and that gives us enough time. We will have everything prepared. We’ll have the email ready to go and staff lined up. As long as we’ve got two days, I think we deliver that relatively smoothly.”

Adare Manor, Ireland

While there are now renewed suggestions that golfers in the UK can initially only play with members of the same household, this could lead to a confusing scenario: Golf clubs in the Republic of Ireland will open on May 18, but members can only play at them in May if they live within a 5km radius, however, there doesn’t appear to be a ruling that golfers have to be from the same household. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, golf clubs may not reopen until at least a week later, there is no suggestion that there will be a 5km radius rule, but there are hints that golfers will only be allowed to play with people they live with. There are many people who are members of golf clubs in both countries.

This is an issue golfers all over the world are facing as, for example, in Illinois, USA, local municipalities are allowed to issue their own directives regarding the resumption of golf, ensuring some courses are currently closed while others nearby are open.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 2, 2020 05:38
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  1. Peter B May 10, 15:51

    I’m struggling to understand that I am allowed to walk for exercise and locally there is one golf course where people are cycling walking dogs walking. The members can walk the course but can’t swing their clubs. If parks are open then why not golf courses.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Colin M May 10, 10:54

    To be honest whether the reopening is in a couple of days or a week, I don’t mind….just get them open. What I don’t want to see is any of this ‘only members living inside 5kms’ rubbish. For many clubs inside 5kms will equate to less than 5% of the membership! Whilst I chose to be a member at a club 20 miles from where I live, it doesn’t mean I’m any less keen to play.

    Reply to this comment
    • PG May 16, 13:32

      I agree Colin, I live in Coastal North Carolina, and like you belong to a club close by. When NC Closed down the courses remained open but only to locals within 2 ZIP codes on their Drivers’ License. Unfortunately, even though it was for a relatively short time, clubs lost their main revenue base (tourism), and had to close. As you know, once you stop maintaining a golf course, it’s a major investment to reopen. Quite sad, really!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Mike P May 10, 08:59

    Watched a VE Day celebration last night with “stars” and an orchestra playing live, yes they were probably 2 meters apart but jeez if they can get away with that then surely the likes of golf and fishing should be allowed. I’m usually 10 meters away from my partners ball at the best of times. I bet if Boris was a golfer we’d never have stopped playing.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Martin K May 10, 08:03

    It’s about time, I’m love exercising but some of the cycleing groups using our roads here in East Lothian literally 2′ apart is ridiculous, passed six of them today theres no way they are all from same house.

    Just realised I’ve turned into the guy I never wanted to become.
    Beer time.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Thelevone May 9, 17:17

    First tee 2 players tee off keeping apart, then go to their bags, again apart. 2 others tee off, the first 2 walk down the fairway and the other 2 follow. They reach the green. Furthest away from the pin putts out, goes to the second tee second one putts out and he goes to the tee. Whilst they tee off the other two putt out and then tee off. Don’t need to touch the flag as the pot can be turned upside down and then leave the flag in. Do this for the whole game. I don’t see what the problem is.

    Reply to this comment
  6. MarquisofSkipwith May 9, 15:59

    I don’t take issue with the general theme of the comments.
    However, quite wrongly, golf will be seen as an elite, upper class sport, with a lot of wealthy Tory voting players.
    The way Boris and his spin doctors work, they will not risk the general non playing public backlash, if golf course re-open first.
    Especially with wee Nicola and the Northern Irish are not approving a restart.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Bullgod May 9, 13:10

    Absolutely pathetic. There’s next to zero risk outside, we don’t even need the overly worthy R&A guidelines. I suspect it’s more centred around the desire to have everyone equally oppressed than practicality.

    Reply to this comment
    • Simmo May 9, 13:47

      Aabsolutely agree with Bullgod. We are being treated like imbeciles. We all know what we’ve got to do to keep safe. Where could you be safer than in the middle of a golf course? We’re not all politicians with the brains of a rocking horse.. Get the golf courses open

      Reply to this comment
    • Joe May 9, 14:40

      Absolutely shocking. If we can open garden centres which will have people queuing up, and being in close proximity of each other. Why the hell can’t golf courses be open. This is an absolute disgrace. Save our golf clubs for god sake. Its great excercise, great for mental health. Far more beneficial

      Reply to this comment
  8. Peter K May 9, 11:32

    Lazy policy makers and frankly low quality people with bad management skills . The Scottish government is meet skilled and Nicola is a bag of hot air . Talks a good game and nothing . Her solution so far a 15 year old school board could have come up with. Sadly our life’s are controlled by half wits .good luck to those encouraging lockdown for a prolonged period when they have no jobs in October due to this weak government and inability to think this out properly . Give Germany a call ! Nicola has probably fell out out with them too alike most she talks too.

    Reply to this comment
    • Pants May 9, 13:28

      I totally agree we’re never going to get rid of of this virus until A vaccine is available so have to accept and manage outbreaks on an acceptable loss basis. When the money runs out is when the scale of the social fallout will be realised as sad as it is 100’s of thousands will be unemployed for a death rate so far of 0.05% of the population. P.s there’s something very fishy about Scottish politics 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  9. Sven May 9, 11:11

    I agree with most of these comments, playing in 2 balls is fine ,single players could have been playing now,cyclists & joggers have been out not all social distancing ,we golfers have all been paying our fees to keep the club’s going,& to save the jobs of all the staff who keep the club’s going

    Reply to this comment
    • Georgina May 9, 13:39

      I totally agree. Joggers won’t move out of anyone’s way. Cyclists are using pavements instead of roads. A single golfer poses no
      threat to anyone. Why should we pay fees if the government stops us playing? I suggest joggers should have to wear masks.

      Reply to this comment
    • Big pedro May 9, 21:54

      Why are bowling clubs not allowed to open as they could adhere to the social distancing same as the golf clubs providing they only allow two players to compete against each other or is it our respective governments want to dictate to us what we can do and can’t do . (BIG brother watches over us) scary

      Reply to this comment
  10. Smiffy1515 May 9, 10:44

    The government are locked into the word essential. What’s wrong with harmless fun. Golf & fishing could be done much safer than a trip to the shops. Most cases are in & around built up area”s & now sadly care homes, due to the gov. Lake of foresight. Golf & certainly fishing are far removed from those sites.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Andrew Smith May 9, 10:14

    Golf’s governing bodies presumably have failed to lobby the government whilst garden centres have successfully lobbied. I’m changing to Whitehill Golf Gardening & Hardware.
    Queue from 1st tee, forget 2 metres social distancing, I’ll have 2 people social distancing only every 10 minutes. Queue is 6600 yards takes 3-4 hours, then buy a pot plant or a shovel before you drive home.

    Reply to this comment
    • John May 9, 13:54

      Superb buddy!! I had a good chuckle there…..bit pricey the old shovels tho, so i’ll just buy a 50p pack of daffodil seeds i’ll never use! Lol

      Reply to this comment
      • Andrew Smith May 9, 16:01

        It’s the principal. From a reply I had from Under Secretary of State for Sport,Tourism & Heritage last week.”It would not be practical for the government to advise on every single sport and activity and so
        we have been encouraging people to interpret the guidance for themselves within the spirit as
        well as the letter. Our key messages are that people can still go outside for basic exercise once
        a day provided they are doing so in a way that meets the latest guidance on social distancing
        and advice on unnecessary social contact. It is important that people do not go outside unless
        they have to, and that when they do, they are spending as little time outside as possible, while
        also avoiding unnecessary travel.”
        So I will be interpreting Boris’s speech on Sunday maybe in a different way to England Golf? Also his comment to spend as little time as possible outside! Tell me the logic of opening garden centres where people will be queuing up outside for ages before going to their gardens. Are they allowed to drive past a garden centre to visit one further away?

        Reply to this comment
    • MarquisofSkipwith May 9, 16:02

      Andrew, 100% correct. The game has no leverage, no lobbying. No one is shouting for us.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Bal May 9, 08:59

    The powers to be in government have mad a complete mess or addressing the issue if Covid. So what they are doing now is protecting themselves and their political futures. They are totally out of touch and the scientists are always going to look at the absolute worst case scenario – thats their job. Also with Boris having had it (thank god he got better for his families sake) – makes it worse as its making his decision making even worse when it comes to easing lockdown – as I bet the scientists are saying – ‘well Boris – you have had it and look what happened to you!!!’. Use common sense and open the bloody courses.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Michael W May 9, 08:03

    As we have said before common sense will win . As I stand 2 meters away from a stranger at the supermarket. I think I can manage that on a golf course. Have some balls and make decisions or you will have no golf courses left to look after.

    Reply to this comment
  14. David W May 9, 06:02

    So why didn’t Scottish Golf make a clear statement to clubs asking them to close instead of requesting people to refrain from playing in March like other golf unions?

    Reply to this comment
  15. Andy May 8, 23:37

    All golfers and even people who don’t play can see it’s a safe environment, golf and fishing not allowed . I don’t fish but that’s even more solo ! Maybe we should takes our clubs to the Tesco haha , joining a new club and they’ve been told it’s the 31st may to resume 15 min interval between tee offs no club house open which is all fair play , coming sense out the windows ! Looking forward to playing again just not that first tee shot

    Reply to this comment
  16. Clubchucker May 8, 20:38

    Lets face it, the political situation regarding this pandemic has been a balls up throughout. They can’t be seen to granting relaxation to the’minority’that play golf or people who fish while the ‘majority’ who watch bloody football are not being catered for.
    Common sense and politicians are like oil and water!
    Clubs have had that much guidance from so many bodies, R&A; BIGGA; PGA etc of the probable measures needed to ensure compliance with social distancing and cross contamination that they should be ready at 72 hrs notice.
    Let’s get smacking balls!!

    Reply to this comment
    • jp May 9, 12:09

      How can football be reinstated this is a contact sport are the oposition stand back when a corner or free kick is taken to allow free shots on target
      golf with 4 playing easy you only look for your own ball to avoid buntching and you follow guidlines as in supermarkets on the fairways etc

      Reply to this comment
      • Phil May 14, 19:58

        I too cannot understand why football is likely to be given approval to recommence mid June with 22 players and officials running round a field and golfers are only permitted to go out in 2’s where we could easily social distance in 4-ball games. Am I missing something.

        Reply to this comment
    • BaldyFella May 10, 07:02

      It does seem ludicrous golf courses cannot open soon. I too have been paying a heavy subscription for nothing. The only point I would make, that no-one else has so far is this; re-opening the courses alone may not be sufficient to save them. The course may re-open but a huge income stream will be missing with the loss of the bar and restaurant. No after round pint and sandwich, no societies, no after round roll-up evening meal, no sunday lunches for visitors to enjoy. Every month that this income stream is lost is another nail in the coffin for many clubs who rely on this cashflow to survive. Even clubs with a good membership like my one may struggle to survive if the social distancing measures prevent bar and restaurant re-opening. Those of you who just want the courses open are missing the point somewhat here I feel.

      Reply to this comment
  17. Bulerbob May 8, 18:43

    Really I wonder if the powers that be have any sense at all. Think about it golf it probably the safest sport at the moment. Out in the open playing in pairs many metres apart it is a no brainer compared to shopping at Tesco or Sainsbury why can those who make the decisions see that. In most crises situations common sense goes out the windows.

    Reply to this comment
    • Terry May 8, 20:00

      As for the restrictions in golf during the lockdown not being considered till phase two meaning golf courses not being open till the end of may when in phase one they are considering opening garden centres and more shops I can’t see sence in keeping golf courses closed. After all there couldn’t be a more non-contact sport when you have a club in your hand swinging between 80-100 miles an hour anyone with common sense wouldn’t be near you anyway but is that what’s lacking in the decision “common sense’

      Reply to this comment
      • Funk May 8, 22:03

        Its a bloody farce, this government. They are strict with golf, yet its taken tbem until a day or so ago to test eveyone coming into tbis country by plane. An absolute joke

        Reply to this comment
  18. Stev May 8, 16:59

    Oops! Apologies for my 3 x duplicate comments earlier. I didn’t think it was uploading so kept trying again.

    Reply to this comment
    • Alistair Dunsmuir Author May 8, 19:07

      It’s our fault! Every comment does get uploaded but it has to be done manually by a moderator due to the system we use. Usually this takes about a minute but sometimes it can be hours. Sorry.

      Reply to this comment
    • Matt May 9, 09:36

      My course is ready to open as it has been maintained throughout the lockdown. We also have the lowest rate of infections in Somerset, it’s not as we haven’t had enough time to plan reopening!! I’d certainly feel more comfortable walking around my golf course in the open air rather than a supermarket or garden centre for an hour with people constantly in my way and some not even abiding by the 2 metre rule!
      Golfers are a sensible bunch of people, let’s relieve some of the lockdown stresses and get back out on the course. I’m a keyworker in the Police service and like many other keyworker’s I need my escape to stay sane!

      Reply to this comment
  19. Stevie May 8, 14:52

    3 weeks notice is just farcical , most people play on normal courses not Augusta , the course I play on is average at best and that will not change in 3 weeks , they need to get the process started as soon as possible , I think there are more people on the course now walking their dogs than would be playing and I couldn’t think of anywhere better for social distancing

    Reply to this comment
  20. Stev May 8, 14:32

    As a key worker i am working in an office all week with many other people but may have to play golf on my own – madness. I live 20 miles from club so 5km restriction no good for me – but people travel 20 plus miles to get to my office – crazy. My feeling – get that course open NOW !

    Reply to this comment
    • Rob May 9, 09:46

      There are so many grey area’s last week 6 cyclists past my house going out for a run very little space between them but i cant play golf on my own .Lets get a grip people

      Reply to this comment
    • Al May 9, 09:52

      Golf should now be acceptable and started a supermarket petrol station is more dangerous
      Garden centres will be the same how would they control most garden centres are just glorified tearooms. I don’t need a garden centre I haven’t a garden. But I’ve got golf clubs. So let’s get this up and running.

      Reply to this comment
  21. Stev May 8, 14:30

    As a key worker i am working in an office all week with many other people but may have to play golf on my own – madness. I live 20 miles from club so 5km restriction no good for me – but people travel 20 plus miles to get to my office – crazy. My feeling – get that course open NOW !

    Reply to this comment
  22. Stev May 8, 14:24

    As a key worker i am still working all week in an office with many other people but may have to play golf alone – absolute madness. I live 20 miles from my club so if they imposed travel restriction of 5km no go for me while other members can play yet people are travelling 20 miles plus to get to my office to work – crazy again. My feeling – get that course open NOW!

    Reply to this comment
  23. Marty boy. May 8, 13:58

    Clubs could open tomorrow, it is the idiots that prevent it, such as those still playing after lockdown was introduced.

    Reply to this comment
  24. Ranko May 8, 13:32

    We all want a safe return to getting a hit at the ball again but these measures are ridiculous as I’m currently in Tesco and we could have a 4 ball with caddies and I’d be bloody safer.

    Reply to this comment
    • Stev May 8, 14:39

      As a key worker i work in an office all week with many other people – but may have to play golf alone – madness. I live 20 miles from club so 5km restriction no good to me – but people travel 20 miles plus to get to my office to work – crazy. My feeling – get that course open NOW!

      Reply to this comment
  25. Michael W May 8, 12:33

    Should two to three days f*** 3 weeks

    Reply to this comment
  26. Andrew L May 8, 11:04

    Would be odd if Garden Ctrs open but the wide open spaces of a golf course not. Let’s see what’s said tomorrow.

    Reply to this comment
    • Billy A May 8, 11:13

      What a crazy world eh…. And more people will be driving to garden centres so the ‘ increased driving’. theory is blown out the water right away.. Mad crazy dsys

      Reply to this comment
      • Bob the bandit May 8, 13:07

        What a load of crap how many households play golf together what happens if there’s only one and it brings the same argument you can queue at a supermarket and touch trollies that God knows how many have touched but not a golf bag and keep a distance from players !

        Reply to this comment
    • Steve R May 8, 13:55

      I totally agree Andrew. It will be interesting to see what is decided and the logical thought process behind the decision towards golf.

      Reply to this comment
    • Godfather May 8, 14:42

      Does anybody know who the sports minister is in the first place, shouldn’t he or she be coming out and saying something Sport in general I think of all these people have paid their subscriptions beginning of May I will be on the golf course till at least your garden centres opening picnics in the park and yet no golf

      Reply to this comment
    • Godfather May 8, 14:44

      Does anybody know who the sports minister is in the first place, shouldn’t he or she be coming out and saying something Sport in general I think of all these people have paid their subscriptions beginning of May I will be on the golf course till at least your garden centres opening picnics in the park and yet no golf

      Reply to this comment
  27. Kate May 8, 10:52

    This is totally illogical now. So we can go shopping in garden centres and DIY stores and queue for an hour in-between 2 strangers, yet we can’t play golf – alone – 300 yards behind the player in front in the fresh air?!!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Alex T May 8, 11:22

      you are complaining that you can’t play a game for potentially another 2-3 weeks because of a deadly global virus and suggesting it’s the same as going to a busy Sainsbury’s to buy food. Just take the time to let that sink in. I love the game, I miss the game but I would rather the older members of my club are kept safe and well even if that means I have to wait a little longer to dust off the driver and blast one OB. Priorities.

      Reply to this comment
      • calmwords May 8, 13:56

        This is not or should not be an exercise in self flagellation, if golf is safer to play than other activities already being allowed or about to be allowed, it is entirely fair to point out the fact. I have no idea why, for example, I see cyclists and horseriders, both in proximity to each other, with far greater risk of requiring NHS resources for injuries, allowed to carry on their pursuit when the much safer sport of golf is denied us. Let’s face it, it’s an image/political thing from city centric politicians who don’t play or understand the game.

        Reply to this comment
      • Dave May 8, 21:38

        That’s fine but the older members don’t need to play , over 70’s probably shouldn’t be out anyway. So why stop the rest of us playing ?

        Reply to this comment
        • Drobny May 9, 10:30

          please give me a half reason why over 70’s shouldn’t play,maybe people who can’t think rationally should also be banned??

          Reply to this comment
        • TerryW May 10, 17:17

          I am a very fit golfer and I am 70 in 2 days time…..SO Dave….are you suggesting that in 2 days I should just fade away at home….if your fit and play golf, ALL ages should be allowed to get back to the great game of golf.

          Reply to this comment
      • Tiger May 9, 07:53

        It’s sunk in and I’ve decided you’re a twat!

        Reply to this comment
      • Bullgod May 9, 13:13

        An IFR of 0.3% that targets a particular demographic and you think golf isn’t safe…Jesus wept.

        Reply to this comment
  28. Jon P May 8, 10:34

    The majority of clubs are well prepared to open, as soon as they’re given the green light.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bulerbob May 8, 18:42

      Really I wonder if the powers that be have any sense at all. Think about it golf it probably the safest sport at the moment. Out in the open playing in pairs many metres apart it is a no brainer compared to shopping at Tesco or Sainsbury why can those who make the decisions see that. In most crises situations common sense goes out the windows.

      Reply to this comment
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