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Is it safe to play golf during the Coronavirus epidemic? – Simple Ways to stay safe & FAQ’s

The government and England Golf have said it is safe to play golf during the Coronavirus pandemic. Although the following simple steps should be taken to limit the risk of exposure, and stick within the social distancing guidelines.

Nothing has hit the modern world in our lifetime, like the current Coronavirus epidemic. 

And as we come out of the recent lockdown, it is fair to say that we will be facing unprecedented obstacles to our journey back to a lifestyle of somewhat normality. If that’s possible.

Now the government has allowed us to pursue exercise, we can start to think about our first rounds of golf in weeks. But what are the guidelines and advice from the government, england golf and our golf clubs?

After answering some questions within facebook groups. Today I thought that I would break it down and publish the information as I have gathered it.

Important Notice:

If you are living in a household with a possible COVID-19 infection or if you are classified as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, the guidance is that you should continue to self-isolate and exercise at home.

What playing format is currently allowed?

According to the most recent published regulations from the government and england golf. The following formats and grouping are allowed on the course.

Individual Golfers

You can play golf by yourself. Many clubs are currently only releasing tee times for two-balls, so if you book as an individual, you stand a good chance of playing by yourself.

If however you find yourself with another player. Please maintain social distancing guidelines by staying 2 metres apart from one another. 

Also, ensure that you following the additional safety tips below.

Two-Balls with players from the same household

Where you can it is recommended that people from the same household play together as a two-ball.

This is great for spouses and parent/child combinations.

Clearly as you are both from the same household, maintaining social distancing isn’t an issue.

Two-Balls with players from different households

The government has stated that we can now socialise with one person from another household, outside of our homes.

So now we can finally play golf with our friends and family. However, social distancing guidelines MUST BE MAINTAINED and ADHERED TO at all times.

Three or Four-Balls

As it currently stands golf clubs are not releasing tee times for any more than two-balls.

However, it may be down to the individual clubs discretion as to whether they allow a four-ball to be played.

In England golf’s opinion, four-balls are only to be considered by a golf club, if all the members of the group are from the same household.

Can Other people join you on the course?

An individual golfer may be joined on the course by either a household member or someone from outside their household.

In the case of the latter example, it is important that all social distancing rules and guidelines are followed.

Can two two-ball groups join each other on the course to speed up play?

No. This would contravene the current social distancing rules and the guidelines set out by England Golf.

Are driving ranges, practice grounds and putting greens open as usual?

Driving ranges are starting to open up to the public, however to limit numbers practicing at any one time, rather than just turning up, you are encouraged to phone a book a time slot.

All the driving ranges around me are following this booking format.

As for practice grounds and putting greens at the clubs, some are being opened up whilst others remain off limits. It is best to call ahead and ask the individual clubs what their policy is.

How many rounds of golf can I play?

Currently the government has lifted any restrictions on the number of times you can leave your house for exercise.

However, whilst you can indeed play a round each and every day if you so wish. The golf club may decide to limit the number of rounds you can play in the interests of fairness.

Personally I am hearing that the clubs are more interested in filling their tee times than limiting play. Again it is always best to ask.

Do you need to nominate the person you’re playing with?

No, not at all. Each time you play a round of golf, you can play with a different person.

However the guidelines as described above must be followed. So players from two separate households can not currently make up a three or four-ball.

Can clubs run competitions?

England Golf recommends only non-competitive play is conducted and that all competition formats are avoided for the foreseeable future. 

Can those over 70 play golf?

As stated in the important notice above. Currently the guidance for vulnerable groups remains in effect. 

However it is down to the individual if they wish to play golf.

Are club houses allowed to open?

No they are not unless they are providing tee time bookings. In which case all contact with the public must be according to social distancing guidelines.

Many clubs now operate an online booking system of one sort or another.

Those clubs which don’t, should be operating over the phone only.

Can I still get golf lessons?

Yes you can. The government has confirmed that coaching can be performed on a one-to-one basis only, as long as social distancing rules are followed.

Can I hire a trolley or Buggy to play golf?

Currently the guidelines are that no buggies or trolleys should be hired out.

However it is down to the individual clubs to adhere to this advice.

I would personally advise against hiring a buggy and choose to walk. It’s better exercise and will save you money.

Other tips for when you’re playing golf during the epidemic

  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • Do not pick up balls found on the course
  • Do not handle the flag stick. Golf clubs should be fitting the holes with plastic fillers to prevent the ball from dropping in.
  • Do not use benches or seats around the course. These should be covered up.
  • Do not use ball washers. Again these should be removed or covered over by the club.
  • Take hand sanitiser with you, to use during your round.
  • Take your own food and drink with you on the course as the pro-shops may be closed for beverage sales.
  • Don’t shake hands, bump elbows or fists. Stay 2m apart at all times.

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