Can golf be played safely during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 29, 2021 12:19

New research has found that the ‘level of [Covid-19] transmission from playing golf is likely to be extremely low’ and has led to calls that an expert in physical activity joins the UK’s SAGE advisory group.

Professor Charlie Foster, the principal advisor on physical activity for health to the four United Kingdom chief medical officers, and Dr Andrew Murray, the chief medical officer to the European Tour and a consultant in sport and exercise medicine at the University of Edinburgh, have produced a paper that an MP has said provides ‘scientific evidence that golf can be played safely with the various enhanced protocols appropriate for the new variants’.

‘COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom 2021’ cites academic and scientific research and even argues that the game should play a role in any government’s strategy to improve the nation’s health as it tackles the pandemic.

Charlie Foster said: “As the paper shows, golf can be played safely, and it should have a central role in the government’s thinking when it comes to helping people exercise now and as we come out of pandemic restrictions.

“I have therefore recommended that an expert in physical activity join the SAGE advisory group to ensure there is consistency across the sciences represented within it, and to provide advice on allowing physical activity to return as restrictions are reduced.”

Dr Andrew Murray added: “Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health adding years to life, and having many mental and physical health benefits, be that through – for example – walking, cycling, running or golf. Golf’s careful planning, and compliance with Covid-19 tiers and regulation means its level of transmission from playing is likely to be extremely low, much lower than indoor space, or more populated outdoor areas.

“This is supported by the various scientific research the paper cites and I encourage those in SAGE and in government to review those as I am sure they will conclude that golf is similar to walking, running and cycling in being beneficial, and is safe to play with the relevant protocols in place.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf’s chair, North Warwickshire MP, Craig Tracey said: “It is entirely understandable for government to utilise scientific advice available when creating its strategy, but it is equally important for that scientific evidence to be applied evenly.

“With the help of Professor Foster and Dr Murray, this paper provides that scientific evidence and demonstrates that golf can be played safely with the various enhanced protocols appropriate for the new variants. I am grateful to them and all the bodies in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf for their hard work on preparing this thorough paper. Again we have been clearly able to make the case that golf is ready, willing and able to return safely at the earliest possible opportunity.”

This comes as new research finds that the chance of being infected with Covid while outdoors is ‘massively reduced’.

Furthermore, scientists have found that the risks are particularly low in fully open spaces such as golf courses.

Researchers found that fresh air disperses and dilutes the virus, and it helps to evaporate the liquid droplets in which it is carried.

On top of that, ultraviolet light from the sun should kill any virus that’s out in the open.

Even so, there are a handful of cases where it’s believed that infections did happen outside.

One study found that two men in China talking face-to-face for at least 15 minutes was enough to spread the virus – so the advice is to avoid being face-to-face if you’re outside with somebody else and less than two metres apart.

As for the virus being on outdoor surfaces such as flagpoles, researchers in the US found the virus on the handles of rubbish bins and the buttons at pedestrian crossings.

They reckon this may have led to infections in the area, though at a relatively low level compared with other ways of spreading the virus.

Many scientists now think that the amount of virus likely to be left on a surface would be minimal, and would disperse within an hour or two.

“The chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces [outdoors] is very small,” says Prof Emmanuel Goldman of Rutgers University.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 29, 2021 12:19
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18 Comments

  1. Golf Club Manager February 7, 21:49

    This is THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE on why golf clubs should not be closed during a pandemic. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Andy Gorman February 5, 12:43

    Sound, common sense and scientifically proven to improve physical and mental health… Golf should never be closed down, period

    Reply to this comment
  3. MichaelU February 4, 13:14

    Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat no more then an hour ago.

    Reply to this comment
  4. ErnieLong February 2, 18:34

    The Government only use science when it suits them, the rest of it is political strategic decision making in order to keep their voters happy. I think a government refund of our membership would soften the blow, they seem to have ploughed money into every other scheme, often wasting it completely.

    Reply to this comment
  5. MWyres January 31, 20:51

    Golf clubs could test players / visitors on entry, in the car park. You must return a negative test in order to play. The cost of the test could be split between the club and members.

    Reply to this comment
  6. CPM January 31, 18:11

    Of course is safe. And it should also be recommended, as well as other sports that are safe to practice. The prohibition of sports in general will cause serious damages in physical and mental health of all population in the short / medium term. Unfortunatly, decisions have been made without listening to scientists and experts, based simply on political decisions, whose intentions are neither the best nor the priority.

    Reply to this comment
  7. GaryW January 31, 15:32

    Does it need new research to show it’s safe? Hope that wasn’t paid for. If me and my son leave my house and go to my course, get out the car, play a round of golf and then go home tell me the risk. Last year when people actually cared about social distancing you had to stay 2mtrs apart and follow a one way system in a supermarket. With 10 minute tee time intervals the distance between me and the group behind is about 400mtrs. And by it’s very nature it’s a one way system. Make changes where they count.

    Reply to this comment
  8. CTingey January 31, 13:59

    although i work in golf at the moment it would be irresponsible to let us back extra traffic extra staff when no revenue can help the bottom line also in England either unplayable with snow or rain another month and hopefully all courses will allow good conditions and to be a member will be extra special sorry but thats only my opinion

    Reply to this comment
  9. Bond January 31, 12:35

    A 2 ball is akin to England restrictions of meeting 1 other person in a park (within local area); ironically the parks are rammed.

    There are loads of sports, like singles tennis outside, that would be suitable; it just requires risk assessment (some work).

    Reply to this comment
  10. JJ January 31, 07:02

    We all know it makes sense but they won’t listen to any other opinions or scientists that are are more qualified than their own! Its a catastrophe that many sports haven’t been able to continue when there’s no real previous issues and the country’s mental health is struggling.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Venturas January 31, 05:22

    Can a fighter jet be refuelled at 40,000 feet? The answer to this is, if the correct process and procedures are followed then ofcourse it can.

    Reply to this comment
  12. MFdS January 31, 02:50

    If golf opens, all other safe sports – and they aren’t just a few – can open and so could gardens, public parks, outside cafes, and the list goes on and on. Thousands of people would be allowed to travel to and from those places. Golf can not be seen as a stand alone sport – something we all have been fighting against for many years. But if sports are permited, than we are in the front line. No doubts we are safe, organized and totally prepared to resume play very safely.

    Reply to this comment
  13. MCS January 30, 23:48

    Yes it probably is safe in theory but they can’t just open golf and not other sports, it would be classed as being ‘Elitist’. Also if u open golf courses, this then needs monitoring up to a point, so bringing in other staff. These are the arguments the government have. Just imagine all the public screaming why can we open golf and not………..all the other million sports. It’s easier for them to have a blanket holt on all sport. As much as I’m missing golf

    Reply to this comment
  14. Cheryl January 30, 22:22

    Not a surprise-Golf can be played safely!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Enda January 30, 20:12

    Interesting article demonstrates why golf should be one if the first outdoor sports to resume

    Reply to this comment
  16. Rory Fleetwood. January 30, 10:35

    There is no way golf can be played safely during a pandemic. Anyone even thinking of playing golf during a pandemic should think again. It is simply too risky. If you even play 9 holes you will spread coronavirus and kill people. All courses must stay closed until 2022.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Farley January 30, 10:22

    Yes yes yes , get them open >>> there are more people out for a walk on the courses than there normally would be playing golf ⛳️⛳️

    Reply to this comment
  18. Sjors January 30, 08:48

    Of course you can, I wouldn’t advise anybody standing close to someone with a driver in his/her hand

    Reply to this comment
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