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England Golf and the R&A prepare for a return to action when lockdown eases

Golf clubs are being given operational guidance about reopening once the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.

The government has been contacted by the R&A after they produced guidance about how the game could be played once current restrictions are lifted.

Golf clubs are being given guidance about reopening
Golf clubs are being given guidance about reopening

England Golf - the governing body for amateur golf in England - are promoting a ‘play safe, stay safe’ policy and say they are working with the government “to try to find the right conditions under which golf can return.”

Football’s Premier League have also been negotiating with the government about a possible return to action under ‘Project Restart’ with games played at neutral venues and behind closed doors.

The nature of golf does mean social distancing is easier.

Golf courses have been closed since March 24, the day the government’s lockdown measures began.

The sport was one of the last left for people to play in public following the outbreak of coronavirus, although competitions had already been put on hold before that.

Plans are in place for a return, with similar guidance given to what clubs had been implementing just prior to the suspension of all activity.

The R&A, who together with the USGA (United States Golf Association) governs the sport of golf worldwide, have issued guidance that covers five key areas.

They say: “It is being provided to give transparency and clarity on current thinking about how the sport might resume in the UK in these challenging circumstances.”

Golf clubs have been shut since lockdown measures started
Golf clubs have been shut since lockdown measures started

Procedures will include all aspects of the golfing experience, from arrival in the car park shortly before the round to departure straight away on completion of the round.

The R&A add that “golfers will be required to comply with the rules on social distancing throughout.”

Temporary provisions will be introduced to ensure safe such as removing all rakes and ball-retrievers, covering up ball washers and drinking fountains and removing access to benches and bins.

Flagsticks can be retained but “it is strongly recommended that a sign is put on the flagstick stating that it is not to be touched.”

Practice areas, including practice nets, are to be closed unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed.

A booking system will have to be introduced to ensure number are restricted and there will be a minimum of 10 minute intervals between tee times.

The measures are extensive and it is recommended that non-competition play is used during the initial period of golf being played, and that stroke play competitions involving players in different groups are avoided.”

The chief exec of England Golf, Jeremy Tomlinson, wrote an open letter, titled ‘keeping the faith’ which said: “Throughout these challenging times, England Golf has collaborated like never before with our colleagues in golf administration and presented a united front during many conversations with government.

“This collective approach has continued this week as we work with government to try and find the right conditions under which golf can return.

“‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ is the message...We must continue to do the right thing in the belief that when it is safe for golf to return we can look back with pride at how our community of golfers handled a situation that turned our sporting world on its head.”

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