Golf in England can resume on March 29

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 22, 2021 16:38

Golf courses in England can reopen from March 29, following the publication of the prime minister’s ‘roadmap’ out of the current coronavirus restrictions.

While people in England can meet one other person from outside their household in a park from March 8, it will take another three weeks until amateur golf can be played.

Golf, along with tennis, will be one of the first sports allowed to resume, after research found the chances of catching Covid-19 while playing golf are low.

The prime minister said the ‘rule of six’ will return on March 29 in England, which will be the day ‘outdoor sports can return’.

It’s not yet clear how many people can play per tee time. Initial reports suggested it would be two-ball only, but Boris Johnson stated that, from March 29, people could meet outdoors in groups of six provided they were from a maximum of two different households, which has led to more recent reports stating that fourballs will be allowed. However, when Craig Tracey MP asked a question about golf in the House of Commons following the detail of the roadmap, Mr Johnson replied that he ‘only has to wait three weeks from March 8 to hit a golf ball with a friend’, suggesting that it will be two-ball only at first. We will update on this as soon as possible.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPG) said the details are being reviewed by industry bodies, specifically the impact of the different levels on different aspects of golf including playing, coaching, retail, and club fitting, as well the implications for driving ranges and practice facilities.

Mr Johnson also said outdoor settings like alcohol takeaways and beer gardens, indoor leisure like swimming pools and gyms and self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and camp sites, can reopen from April 12, the rule of six will be abolished for outdoor gatherings, and replaced with a limit of 30 people (which will also apply to weddings, wakes and receptions), and a rule of six will be applied in hospitality settings like clubhouse bars, and sporting events can reopen, on May 17, and all legal limits on social contact will be removed from June 21.

England Golf last week wrote to the prime minister, asking for courses to reopen.

The body has said it ‘is extremely disappointed that the scientific evidence presented to government detailing how the sport can be played in a Covid-secure manner has not resulted in a return to play date earlier than 29 March.’

Golf courses in Scotland have remained open while venues in England, Wales and Ireland closed in the autumn and winter.

It is not yet known when Irish and Welsh facilities can reopen but the first minister of Wales is likely to make an announcement surrounding golf’s return on March 12. Indoor and outdoor sports facilities are closed in Northern Ireland, where lockdown has been extended until April 1, with a review of current measures on March 18.

Wales Golf has stated that it is disappointed that it will take that long.

“At a meeting with Welsh government officials last week, we presented a document which supports our long-held view that golf has been and can continue to be played safely during the current pandemic. Other key areas of discussion centred around the numerous mental health and wellbeing benefits golf provides to tens of thousands of participants across Wales,” said a spokesman.

“The Welsh government agreed that golf is a sport which can be played in a safe, socially distanced manner. Their main concerns were with the potential Wales-wide impact of relaxing the ‘stay at home’ restrictions, and the cumulative impact of doing this.”

Golf Ireland and the PGA have also called for golf courses to reopen as soon as possible.

The industry has reacted with a mixture of delight and relief that clubs have a date for reopening, but also some frustration that it won’t be sooner.

“Why do they need to wait another three weeks after schools reopen? It just makes no sense yet again,” said golf coach Nick Lees.

Golf coach Marc Farrimond added: It’s a start. But two households? Come on Boris. We’re in the open air. Use some common sense. Not one transmission occurred from the crowded beaches last summer. So give us a break now.”

Alastair Sinclair, CEO, PlayMoreGolf, said: “For thousands of golfers in England, this news comes as a relief and a renewed sense of optimism towards a new normal. The last 12 months have been physically, emotionally and mentally draining for everyone and we hope that golf’s return can undo some of the negative mental health impacts.”

“It’s a big relief for so many golf clubs,” Jenny Holmes, director of Fynn Valley Golf Club, in Suffolk, said.

“Obviously we hoped it to be sooner, but it’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been challenging for all of us, but I suppose if you do lockdown golf courses, then January and February are not the worst months to do it.

“But it’s going to be exciting to see our members again, with the days getting longer and the weather warmer.

“As the rule of six is applying, then we hope it will be four-balls, but we will wait and see.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 22, 2021 16:38
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  1. Cameraman Dave February 26, 11:14

    My understanding is that four ball will be allowed – but only from a maximum of two different households. BUT I don’t understand why it’s taking England Golf so long to confirm this or why Boris said you can play ‘with a friend’

    Reply to this comment
  2. MBK February 26, 10:45

    The article misquotes the rules from 29th March (8th March actually). The rule is groups of six individuals OR two households. The two households rule is there only to cope with large families so that more than six can gather in those circumstances.

    So 4 balls definitely WILL be permitted from 29th Match

    Reply to this comment
  3. djm February 25, 12:40

    I wouldn’t hang your hat on it…….Finland announces 3 week lockdown from March 8. New varietals of Chyynese Virus found in New York…. The genie is out of the bottle & unless/until people decide that enough is enough & wilfully disregard government by edict, the next lockdown is at any time only a few days away. Don’t expect the not-fit-for-purpose quango England Golf to be of any assistance, they’ll be too occupied sewing buttons on their smashing new blazers..

    Reply to this comment
  4. David Hutchison February 24, 19:23

    I have long wondered about the reason behind the absurdity of being allowed to walk on your golf course using a golf club as a walking stick, but if you hit a ball a few yards ahead, you are breaking the law.
    Even if you are on your own!!
    The ban on golf does not apply in Scotland or for that matter in Queensland – neither place noted for being slack on Covid.
    It has nothing to do with the so called science or indeed the data.
    I stumbled across the answer just now when I read that Mike Dickson, sports writer on the Mail, said last year that BJ does not want to be seen to favour “posh sports” like
    golf and tennis.
    It is pure politics – what his pollsters tell him the public wants. Also that most if not all golfers are inclined to vote Conservative anyway whatever.
    So with BJ it is not just “F business” as he said a few years ago, but also “F golf “ as well.
    I hope your organisation will call him out, when he seeks to ban golf yet again,
    should there be a spike in Covid later in the year.

    Reply to this comment
  5. FreeHandicaps February 24, 12:24

    Big day back – finally….strange decision to keep them closed for so long given the inherent social distancing which occurs naturally. Hopefully participation going forward for 2021 will make up the lost revenues.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Sunningdale Heath February 23, 13:11

    Great news.
    Will be a very busy time again for golf clubs (especially new members) as the popularity of the game I’m sure will continue the growth seen before. People have seen the physical, mental and social benefits of the game since the start of the virus.
    #people #mentalhealth #health #golfclubs #golfmembership

    Reply to this comment
  7. RANGE SERVANT February 23, 08:19

    Great news for our golf friends and colleagues in England

    Reply to this comment
  8. HM PGA February 23, 06:56

    That’s just sad they haven’t reopened sooner. Especially after seeing US and other countries opening with operational changes to keep everyone safer. Have they shut down public outdoor places like parks and such this long???

    Reply to this comment
  9. lauriel February 23, 02:32

    NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON…. Absolutely brilliant.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Gabriel Ice February 22, 21:46

    And from April 12, a pint on the patio of the clubhouse.
    Unless they change their mind, again.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Hatfield February 22, 18:51

    Let’s hope for a similar (or sooner) decision for Northern Ireland

    Reply to this comment
    • ErnieLong February 22, 19:07

      Why !!!!??? What is the rationale behind this decision. Protect the nhs ???? 5 more weeks from today, many golf memberships start in April including mine, Ive been able to play 3 1/2 rounds in the last 6 months, due to tier restrictions and lockdown. Meanwhile in Scotland golf has continued. The government should be honest about why its going to take nearly a year and a half to get back to normal, was it austerity by any chance that left is in this mess, with an underfunded nhs, and brexit, where staff levels have dropped due to nurses and doctors leaving the country. Meanwhile we have to pay for this by losing our freedom. I want a refund on my golf subscription, Matt Hancock, who is a mate of mine is going to pay mine, brown envelopes !

      Reply to this comment
  12. LINKS BRIDGES February 22, 18:11

    Folks in England, looks like you can play golf when the weather permits!

    Reply to this comment
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