Golfers get ready to swing back into action in Kilkenny

New rules for clubs and golfers to remember

Kilkenny Golf

The Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland issued a return to play on the country’s courses from May 18

The first shoots of a sporting recovery were announced as the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland issued a return to play on the country’s courses from May 18.

The protocol was announced following extensive consultation with the relevant government departments and state agencies and aims to ensure that golf can be played safely during the Covid-19 pandemic where public health measures permit such activity.

As one of the first sports to be allowed to resume, there is a major responsibility on golf clubs and golfers to ensure that the sport is conducted in a safe and responsible manner. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely and has not ruled out the reintroduction of restrictions which could see golf clubs closed again if the protocol is not followed.

“It is essential that golf clubs take whatever steps to ensure they can implement this protocol,” the GUI said in a statement announcing their return to play. “We are asking all clubs to demonstrate their determination to keep golf safe and open by signing up to support the measures prescribed.

“Demand for golf may be high as we progress through the phases, as golf is among a relatively small number of recreational activities available to people. It is essential that golf clubs put in place tee time restrictions in line with the protocol to manage expectations.

Clubs wishing to open their courses for use must ensure that members with colds or any symptoms of Covid-19 stay away from the golf course/clubhouse.

Physical distancing rules must be observed by all members at all times in the car park, clubhouse and on the course. Play is restricted to members only in a casual golf format.

Club personnel must be on hand to monitor adherence with physical distancing rules. Tee times must be booked in advance online or over the telephone. Clubs must ensure that players names are recorded on timesheets and timesheets must be kept for a period of at least six weeks to assist with contact tracing should the need arise.

Daily timesheets are restricted to a minimum of 10, 12 or 14 minute intervals, while bars and restaurants are to remain closed and off-limits. Clubhouse access should be confined to use of toilet facilities, provided they can be kept clean, as well as initial retrieval of golf equipment from lockers.

On the course members will be instructed not to touch the flag or flagstick. Rakes are removed from the course - players are requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club.

Hire trolleys (electric and pull trolleys) must be sanitised prior to each use, while caddies are not permitted (in the exception where the group of golfers and caddies are from the same household).

In addition, the following guidelines should be observed:

• Signage should be erected to reinforce physical distancing rules.

• Holes/cups should be altered to facilitate easy retrieval of golf balls.

• Hand sanitisers should be made available.

• Regular cleaning of toilets (on course and in clubhouse) if they are in use.

• Where possible ball washers, bins, sand bags, benches, divot boxes and non-essential furniture should be taken in off the course.

A video on how to stay safe on the course is available here 

Where such fixtures are permanent, they should be taken out of use.

• Where practice putting greens are open, the holes should be filled in or covered, otherwise the greens should be closed.

• Members of the same household should play together, rather than split into mixed groups.

• The use of golf buggies is discouraged. Where a golf buggy must be used, it should be used by one person only and cannot be exchanged between people during the round. Buggies must be sanitised thoroughly after each use.

• It is strongly recommended that all golf clubs have a policy of allowing juniors to play only if they are accompanied by an adult. In addition, wherever possible, juniors should restrict themselves to playing with other members of their own household.

Clubs will have to consider ways in which social distancing can be facilitated in practice facilities. If such facilities are open, golfers must warm up on their own. Holes must be filled in on the practice putting green(s).

To ensure the game is played safely, golfers are reminded to bring their own hand sanitiser to the course and use regularly during the round.

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