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

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 6, 2020 07:46

UK golf courses are set to find out this weekend when they can reopen following the Covid-19 lockdown, with some warning the notice period could be less than 24 hours.

A Downing Street spokesman has confirmed that outdoor activities will be discussed at a meeting on May 7, although it is unlikely that any decision will be revealed until after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech to the nation about the next phase of the lockdown on May 10.

The spokesman said: “Broadly, the scientific and medical experts have been clear that there is less likelihood of transmission of this disease outdoors than indoors. That will obviously be something we are considering as part of the review.”

This follows developments in Ireland where, last week, the Irish government issued a new directive on outdoor activities, which means golf courses in that country can reopen on May 18 with strict new rules, such as the only members who can play at their venues in May must live within 5km of their club.

Politicians such as Oliver Dowden MP and Craig Tracey MP have strongly suggested that golf courses will be allowed to open in the first wave of the easing of UK lockdown restrictions, while experts such as Professor Samuel McConkey and Sir Patrick Vallance have said golf can be played with an adherence to social distancing rules.

Golf courses are reopening all over Europe including, in the last few days, in the Channel Islands.

Another academic has joined the call for golf to resume: Public health, pandemics and infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Dingwall told Sky News that golf courses could reopen with just a ‘couple of days’ notice, adding that golf is a game that can be played while observing social distancing rules.

However, greenkeeping association BIGGA has gone even further, stating that clubs should be prepared for a notice period that’s less than 24 hours.

The association has issued a statement advising golf clubs and course managers to plan for two potential scenarios, with the first being that ‘golf courses may receive permission to open at very short notice, perhaps even overnight’.

The second is that golf facilities may be given one to two weeks’ notice to prepare for opening.

In the statement BIGGA adds that it has not been given official guidance from the government about an official opening date.

Some venues have said it will not be a problem if they are given little notice.

For example, David Milne, director at Hinksey Heights Golf Club in Oxford, said: “If the announcement was on a Sunday we could be open on Monday morning.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t be up and running right away.

“We have to be ready, because nobody has made a penny in this last period.

“If there’s a classic sport for social distancing it’s golf. It gives you exercise physically and mentally.

“The courses in Ireland are going back in the middle of the month.

“We are remaining optimistic.”

Andrew Lawrence, general manager at Burford Golf Club, added: “Most of the arrangements outlined by the various governing bodies are similar to what they have done in Jersey.

“We could go tomorrow with the course.

“It would be a case of putting the flags back and the tee markers out and we could get going.

“The key is whenever we get the green light it’s a case of safety first.”

Others have stated it will be some time until their courses are back to normal.

Around the world, many venues that have reopened have reported busy trade.

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 last Friday.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 6, 2020 07:46
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  1. John May 9, 04:02

    Lazy selfish brits…..should this not be about been safe, saving life’s or is it all about, let’s get on the golf course, don’t worry about anything else, let’s not forget as golf is one of the only sports available every man and there dog are gonna want to have a game, which in turn is going to lead to drinking on the course and selfish idiots acting like complete Pratt’s, yet again ruining it for everybody else, does anyone care how much damage idiots have caused to a lot of clubs already..??

    Golf courses should remain closed along with everything else until we have some what defeated COVID-19, hey the great brits, don’t care about anyone but themselves, I’m healthy who cares about anyone else, disgrace………

    Reply to this comment
    • Doz May 9, 07:55

      Only answer is members only.

      Reply to this comment
    • The absolute worst May 9, 11:47

      Your usage of commas is more damaging to society than any economic strife or global virus there, my good fellow.

      I mean maybe I’m just a pedant so I should grow up, level with you, and put it in your language:

      ‘you’re comma’s are the wors’t’s’ren’ty’re.’

      Reply to this comment
  2. Guy May 8, 12:32

    We had better have some notice otherwise there will be problems.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Chris L May 7, 09:42

    More notice would be nice but I think we need to look at the bigger picture here. They may choose not to give more notice as it might give a false sense of security and comfort in the notice period given. Of course if Clubs are not ready to open from the get go then they will just need to remain closed until they are. The course does not need to be tournament standard and if Clubs have not been working on a return to golf plan then more fool them. Right or wrong, everything the Govt has done has had reasoning behind it.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Stephen May 7, 09:40

    Can…. Not….. Wait…..

    Reply to this comment
  5. Fed up May 6, 17:43

    How much bloody time do you people want

    Reply to this comment
  6. TheGolfDoctor May 6, 14:03

    Boris Johnson has said in the House of Commons that ‘some lockdown measures will be eased from Monday’ #fingerscrossed

    Reply to this comment
  7. Phil J May 6, 12:03

    Can somebody tell me what has changed since 24th March?

    Reply to this comment
    • Reg May 6, 23:38

      Transmission rate is <1 rather than 4<. Deaths declining not increasing. Better understanding of the virus…a few things really

      Reply to this comment
  8. James May 6, 11:52

    All clubs in England have had sufficient notice period to get ready. EnglandGolf released their play safe stay safe initiative last week! So all clubs should be ready minus a few minor details.

    Reply to this comment
    • Robgolfpro May 7, 11:33

      As a PGA Professional who has heavily stocked my shop for the golf season ahead I can’t wait to get the green light! All professionals will be in the same boat we get stock feb/March and pay apr/May/June but this year no income to pay our creditors we need to open as soon as is safe or some will go bust!

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

        If golf courses do open It won’t include the Club house or Pro Shop! It will be car park direct to first Tee and away! Arrival 10 minutes before Tee Time, no putting green or range!

        Reply to this comment
  9. Cyril May 6, 11:39

    If you are looking for post lockdown ‘best practice’ for golf clubs, look at Portugal.

    The English Golf Unions etc should take a leaf out of the Portuguese Golf Federation book.

    We returned to golf this week here in Portugal.

    I really enjoy reading your golf news.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Tim L May 6, 10:30

    If 24 hours notice is given, it’s quite simply irresponsible. Give a decent notice period and let’s establishments have some time to prepare in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. Rushing will only cause mistakes that quite frankly have deadly repercussions.

    Reply to this comment
    • Tim C May 6, 11:31

      24 hours? That would be so irresponsible. Give us time and an opportunity to communicate properly to our members.

      Reply to this comment
    • Kitchenman May 6, 11:56

      I’m sorry Tim L but I fail to see why you require more than 24 hrs notice. The courses have had continuous maintenance over the lock down all you need to do is put the tee markers out and check the hole edges your good to go

      Reply to this comment
      • drlowdon May 6, 13:43

        It’s not that the course won’t be ready, it’s that the clubs need to have time to communicate with their members as to booking tee times etc.

        You don’t want 100 people all turning up on the 1st tee the second the course is open…

        Reply to this comment
        • Sjames May 6, 22:56

          I have worked in the pro shop at a golf course for four years serving members and visitors. Unfortunately a significant number of golfers either ignored social distancing guidlines or were too wrapped up in their impending game to notice that they were acting irresponsibly. A good number of members also lacked basic hygiene when using the toilet facilities before the pandemic. Not all club owners are responsible either and will cut corners or bow to pressure to keep longstanding members happy. It saddens me to have to write this but if the lockdown at my club was lifted next week, I would stay well away. It simply isn’t safe yet.

          Reply to this comment
        • Reg May 6, 23:43

          Our club have already put a plan in place. As indicated by the R&A. Play only allowed through pre-booked slots via brs system.

          If your club hasn’t already prepared for this then I’d be demanding answers.

          Tim C pull your finger out and get your club ready.

          Reply to this comment
        • Toddy May 8, 10:35

          Plus most members clubs are stored within the clubhouse changing rooms so need access plenty to think about,we are all frustrated but take a bit of time and do it properly.

          Reply to this comment
      • Chris May 7, 09:17

        Its all very well people saying put flads out and tee markers and off you go. I work at a busy club in the south with 3 courses we have had 3 greenkeepers trying to maintain 600 acres during this lockdown. When we open we have to think about staff ppe for everyone, screens in front of tills in the shop, 2 meter distancing markers, online bookings changed to 10-15 mins etc etc . It takes time but as most golfers are selfish they just want to get going. Think of others!!

        Reply to this comment
        • MD May 7, 10:39

          These selfish golfers pay your wages if you need more staff then stop taking the governments money and If your are not ready then don’t reopen it’s really quite simple.

          Reply to this comment
          • Golfinglooney May 8, 20:21

            Most golf courses must be chomping at the bit to get going along with there members im sure there already using the time to put all new preparations for opening in place instead of looking at the stars for answers . Typical lazy brits need weeks notice its shocking do you want an income or not.

      • RPM May 9, 14:36

        Essential maintenance only, so the courses are not as members would expect them at this time of year with a full staff in.

        We also haven’t had guidance on 2 balls or 4 balls, whether only 9 holes or 18 will be allowed so cannot set up booking systems until we get it. Once we get it we need to have set limits on access to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to play. All these things have been modelled, but until we know which set we are going to be able to use we cannot advise members.

        Reply to this comment
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