How have golf rules adapted to the recent health crisis?

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 29, 2020 12:23

There are few sports which have been unaffected by the current health crisis and the world of golf has likewise seen a handful of changes.

This might come as a surprise to some due to the fact that golf is not nearly as much of a ‘hands-on’ activity when compared to other pastimes such as football or basketball. Still, organisers across the globe have implemented several interesting changes which will inevitably impact players.

Let’s take a look at a handful of newer regulations as well as what they could signify while you are out on the green.

The use of electronic scorecards

Minimising interpersonal contact while on the course is obviously helpful in this day and age. While some locations may still choose to employ physical scorecards, the presence of electronic scoring (such as via a dedicated smartphone application) is now recommended. This trend has actually been taking place for some time, due to the rise of digital technology.

Holing out

Like other sports which have recently begun to hold live competitions (such as rugby in New Zealand), additional modifications might have to be made in order to protect players. For example, some golfers have been concerned that physically removing a ball from a hole could transmit germs. This is why a handful of courses have modified their holes so that the ball does not fall completely to the bottom. This helps to minimise the amount of contact that players are required to make with the ball between holes.

The presence of areas which have not been raked

Golf courses are some of the most well-groomed areas on earth. This is obviously crucial in terms of accuracy and convenience. However, many locations have cut back on staff while others have curtailed the use of common instruments such as bunker rakes. So, what would happen if a ball happens to fall within an unkempt location?

There are several suggestions which can be adopted by courses including:

  • Permitting golfers to take a personal rake along with them.
  • Declaring such areas as grounds under repair.
  • Encouraging players to manually smooth the surfaces when required.
  • Allowing players to place the ball within a nearby area that has been properly maintained.

It is likely that each course will adopt its own methods.

What about flag sticks?

These sticks are essential in order to know the exact location of a hole. In the event that a course decides to remove them, it should provide players with an alternative means to visually identify their hole. Players could otherwise be instructed not to touch the poles (although this may be difficult to enforce). Regardless of whatever action is taken, it should be clearly communicated to all public and private club members.

There is no doubt that golf is already getting back on its feet. Still, it is important to keep these new rules in mind so that the safety of everyone is guaranteed.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 29, 2020 12:23
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