GOLFERS will be dismayed at the news that all golf courses will be forced to close for four weeks during the second national lockdown in England.
Boris Johnson announced last night (Saturday, October 31, 2020) that all sports and outdoor activities would stop for four weeks due to Covid-19 – despite golf making a comeback after rules on outdoor exercise came into force on May 13.
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Will golf courses have to close under the new lockdown rules?
Yes, golf courses will be forced to close from Thursday, November 5 until December 2, 2020 under the Government's strict new second lockdown.
Activities banned during Lockdown Two, listed on the official Government website, reads: “Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks."
England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson said: “Having digested the Prime Minister’s statement to the nation on Saturday night and read the guidance which followed, there is an element of confusion around the government’s stated intention to close down golf courses and facilities from Thursday 5 November.
"As a result of this, and with the health of the nation very much at the heart of my thinking, I would like to make clear England Golf’s intention to respectfully challenge the government’s rationale for closing golf courses. We will do so utilising all in our network – MPs, colleagues, media and friends – to make sure we are heard by government.
"Listening to the Prime Minister, the news that he is actively encouraging safe and responsible outdoor exercise for households or two individuals pointed to our great game of golf being at the heart of this policy. The guidance which followed stating that golf courses were on a list of venues which should close, therefore, appeared contradictory and came out of the blue.
"At no point was England Golf – as the governing body for the amateur game of golf in this country – consulted about this decision.
"Of course, we fully recognise and accept the need to suppress the virus to save lives and protect the NHS.
"Throughout the pandemic England Golf has endeavoured to act with authority, knowledge, understanding and extreme diligence. At all times we have placed the health and wellbeing of our communities as a priority.
“For this and many reasons, it is our sincere belief that it is now counter-productive to shut down a healthy pursuit which naturally lends itself to social distancing and is played in a Covid-secure manner in the open air.”
Golf courses had already closed in both Wales and Ireland following a rise in coronavirus cases.
When will golf courses reopen in the UK?
At present there is no official date for the reopening of golf courses.
However, it is expected they will reopen, along with other outdoor sports and activities, when the second national lockdown ends on December 2.
The Government said it will review the national lockdown restrictions, before – it is believed – the country will go back into the tiered Covid alert system ahead of Christmas.
What are the new golf rules in the UK?
A new list of strict protocols designed to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus are in place when golf courses reopen.
The R&A – golf's governing body – along with other leading golf organisations and clubs have laid out a series of new rules for teeing off.
- Social distancing must be strictly adhered to at all times
- Individuals can play golf on their own, or two people from different households can play golf together
- Households of up to four people can play golf at the discretion of the clubs
- You will likely have to book tee time online
- Ten minute spacing is expected between groups and individuals on the course
- Club houses are expected to remain closed – so you will have to change into your golf shoes before arriving on the course
- People should bring their own carts, and buggies are likely to be unavailable
- Do not share equipment such as rangefinders or golf clubs
- Only touch your own ball
- Upside down flagstick cups will allow golfers to retrieve their balls without touching the flag
- Rakes, ball washers and other course furniture will be removed
- You should smooth sand in bunkers with your feet
- Do not shake hands before or after the game
Fairways and greens remain closed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland due to differing health rules rolled out by the devolved administrations.
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