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Golf after lockdown: England Golf’s guidance

The governing body have issued a series of guides as part of their ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe Campaign’ in preparation for golf’s return after the coronavirus lockdown

Putting plans in place to fairly allocate tee times, ensuring volunteers and staff have PPE if needed, and communicating a “draft golfer journey from car park to round completion” are some of the measures England Golf advise clubs could consider in preparation for the sport’s return.

The governing body has published a series of guides under the Play Safe, Stay Safe banner to help golfers, clubs and counties plan in advance for the time courses can reopen following the coronavirus shutdown.

These cover communications, volunteers, business support, preparing your facility and playing the game.

While England Golf stressed there was not currently a date for the return to playing golf, they said: “It is prudent to consider the necessary steps required ahead of the re-opening of golf facilities”.

They added: “We have built a robust framework for clubs and continue to collaborate with the other home nations, The R&A and industry associations to ensure a responsible and organised return to playing the game when government allows it.

“Guidance may require to be re-issued as government measures to combat COVID-19 are reviewed and updated.”

Some of the key points include:

Communications Framework

“Planning and communicating effectively with golfers, staff and volunteers in the weeks ahead will be crucial,” the guide states.

“Making sure everyone is kept in-the-loop will help build trust as golf adapts to the ‘new normal’ in accordance with ongoing government and medical advice.

“It is vital that golf’s return is managed responsibly. ‘Play safe, stay safe’ is the critical message to pass on to all golfers when the time is right again for play.”

A subsequent checklist advises looking at a number of ideas including calling members “current and lapsed – to show you care, regardless of whether they have renewed”.

Other measures include:

  • Communicating a “draft golfer journey from car park to round completion with an expectation of having to adopt social distancing rules around the facility
  • Develop a draft course usage policy – e.g. tee time spaces, starting tees, 9 or 18 holes per round, traffic flow etc.
  • Draft a plan for fair allocation of tee times based on the assumption that demand may exceed availably

Volunteers framework

This guide says: “As we plan for the day when it is safe for golf to return, it is clear that the role of staff and volunteers more than ever will be key to golf clubs re-opening their doors in an organised and responsible manner.

“It is realistic to expect limits and restrictions to normal golfing practices once elements of lockdown are lifted and golf is allowed to re-start. In order to assist staff, there are a number of ways volunteers (either current or new recruits) can play their part in golf’s safe return.”

Potential measures clubs should consider include:

  • Ensuring all volunteers are suitably protected (Personal Protective Equipment) and that you have enough protocols in place to deal with incidents and risk
  • Consider how your club can recognise and reward volunteers – such as offering discounts/vouchers as well as praise for their vital work

A framework for preparing your facility

Noting that greenkeepers have carried out “sterling work throughout golf’s shutdown in accordance with the ‘essential maintenance’ guidelines issued by BIGGA and The R&A”, this guide adds:

“It remains vital for clubs to work within the government and industry guidelines when it is safe for golf to return.

“The temptation to work through a list of course improvements that were planned before the disruption of the last few months should be resisted.

“Naturally, some golf courses may fall significantly short of their normal early summer playing condition and golfers should be advised to lower their expectation levels for the first few weeks or even months after any easing of lockdown.”

A checklist also covers what to think about in buildings, including considering Perspex screens for all serving points, and car parks (can you mark out alternate spaces for use to aid social distancing?).

A framework for playing golf

This guide repeats the guidance issued by the R&A on behalf of the UK golf industry.

To see the full documents, click the following links:

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Source: National Club Golf