Daniel Box
By Daniel Box

Golf's professional bodies have released a new 2,500 word document aimed at golf clubs and facilities, which provides guidance on how they should proceed once the UK lockdown is lifted and golf is permitted again.

New Guidance For Golf After Lockdown

Whilst there has still been no real suggestion of a date when golfers may be able to tee it up again, despite reports over the weekend that courses will be ready from early May, the guidance will allow these facilities to prepare for reopening so that golf can resume in the safest possible manner.

The document's guidelines, which have been produced by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), British Golf Industry Association (BGIA), British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA), Foremost, Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA), TGIGolf, and the UK Golf Federation, may also be subject to change dependent on further government guidance on social distancing over the coming weeks.

The suggestions in the document are split into five different sections:

1. Preparing The Golf Course

Golf courses have been permitted to carry out essential maintenance during the period of course closure. If government regulations allow increased maintenance levels, then the primary consideration should continue to be ensuring staff safety.

Measures relating to staff should include but not be limited to:

  • Ensuring suitable disinfectant and hand sanitiser is provided in all communal areas

  • Stagger working hours and break times

  • Limit or prohibit use of communal areas

  • Ensure there is a robust lone working policy

  • Encourage staff to bring their own food and drink for their breaks and for this to be stored safely and separately

  • Appoint a senior member of staff to be responsible for disinfecting/sanitising all surfaces that are touched, for example door handles and fuel pumps. The same member of staff should be responsible for opening and closing doors to the maintenance facility.

  • Ensure team meetings, if they are necessary, are held outdoors or in large indoor spaces with physical distancing implemented.

  • Utilise modern communication methods, for example online systems mobile phones etc. for team communications rather than indoor briefings and job sheets.

It is likely that annual maintenance plans for the course will have been severely affected by the course closure period, this means that some projects planned for 2020 may be delayed or cancelled.

Consideration should be given to the amount of invasive maintenance, such as aeration and topdressing that needs to take place in light of the shortened golf season. This may have an effect on the quality of surfaces in the longer term.

2. Starting A Phased Return To Play

Playing On The Golf Course

  • Play should be managed by the professional staff/started and they should remind golfers of the guidance on social distancing and safe play.

  • This guidance and advice for golfers should be posted on websites and on tee times booking pages.

  • Tee Time booking should be done online if at all possible

  • Consider increasing the time between tee times to allow for easier social distancing

  • Consider restricting number of players in a group

  • Consider playing a reduced number of holes (e.g. 9 holes)

  • Any payment should be taken online or by contactless methods

  • Clubhouses may initially remain shut so ask people to arrive shortly before their tee time (e.g. 10-15 minutes) and change their shoes etc. in the car park

  • Consider the layout of the car park for easier social distancing

  • Consider access to toilets

  • It may be necessary to employ marshals on the golf course to ensure that the social distancing directive is maintained between players

  • Remove the flagsticks or ask golfers to leave the flag in at all times. If the flagstick is left in, use a hole liner system that means that the ball doesn’t drop and can be retrieved without touching the cup

  • Remove the bunker rakes and cover or close ball washers and any other course furniture that would otherwise be touched

  • Cover or remove all benches / seating from the course if possible

  • Golfers should be asked to leave the venue as soon as their game is completed

Driving Range Use

  • If bays are not separated by partitions or walls, close every other bay to allow for social distancing

  • Make sure the ball washer has soap in the machine

  • Provide sanitising wipes for people to use as required

  • Clean the ball dispenser surfaces frequently

  • Coach on the side of the range that fewest people have to walk past

  • Ask people to use their own equipment

3. Starting PGA Professional Services

  • There should be clear external signage to inform golfers a maximum of 2 golfers will be allowed in the shop at any one time (this may need to be 1 golfer at a time for small shops)

  • For larger shops, agreed numbers of customers may be permitted to enter but this must be in line with social distancing recommendations. Larger shops may also wish to suggest a route to be taken around the shop by use of arrows on the floor

  • Staff shift patterns should be amended to take account of government advice, ideally one person working at a time – this may result in a lower staffing level in the shop than normal and a more basic service may be offered on initial opening

  • Staff in the shop must conform to government advice on social distancing – ideally one person at a time working in the shop, if this is not possible, then a 2 metre distance should be kept

  • Shop staff should wash hands regularly, as required

  • Ideally one member of staff would use the till during a particular shift – if multiple people are operating the same till then hands should be washed / sanitised after each transaction

  • There should be a clearly defined queuing area outside the shop where golfers must adhere to social distancing of a minimum of 2 metres

  • Hand sanitiser should be positioned at the entrance to the shop and all customers should be asked to sanitise before entering

  • The shop door could remain open to avoid contact with handles by golfers and to easily view number of customers in the shop

  • In store signage should direct customers to the till area and then back out of the shop

  • Transactions should be by customer account or card only

  • Sanitiser wipes should be provided for use before and after each transaction

  • Rental trolleys will not be available unless handles are able to be removed and sanitised between each use

  • Buggy use should be reviewed in latter stages of ‘return to golf’. When this service is offered, it should be on the basis of one person only hire, with strict sanitisation between hires

  • Where possible, a clear screen should be employed to protect shop staff

  • Ideally, the shop should be merchandised with essential items positioned close to the till area, especially given possible lower levels of staffing

  • Other transactions requiring advice will be located in an area where shop staff can offer advice whilst also observing safe social distancing of 2 metres

4. Starting Clubhouse Management And Administration

  • The management and administration of the club will in many ways remain focused on its core objectives. However, certain procedures and policies will need to be introduced or amended to ensure the welfare of the staff, golfers and those outside personnel who will visit the club in their normal working day i.e. delivery, maintenance and even emergency personnel

  • Whilst the clubhouse may remain closed for the initial period, there will be a need for the management of the club to be maintained. At this time offices and administration areas should not be available for golfers or visitors to frequent or visit. All members and visitors will need to be made aware of the alternative communication channels that are available to them

  • Those responsible for overseeing the running of the club, Owners, Directors and Committee members, need to agree and adhere to a cohesive policy and set of procedures that are delivered on a consistent basis

  • The club administration areas and offices will need to be sufficiently arranged to ensure that either lone working (split shifts) or adequate social distancing is adhered to. Should there be need to provide a reception facility, then adequate protective screening will need to be deployed

  • Hand sanitisers and only disposable hand towels should be used for staff toilet facilities - regular cleaning procedures will be required for these areas

  • In the instance of maintenance personnel being involved in clubhouse activities, they should be suitably attired with protective clothing and report in and out of the facility

  • Administer the arrangements for playing golf as outlined above

  • In the event of Clubs offering a take-away coffee / tea service enforce social distancing rules and ensure staff wear protective gloves. All drinks or snacks are served in either plastic or paper containers

  • Should the decision be made to open the locker rooms and toilets, then there is a need to ensure they are cleaned and sanitised at regular intervals

  • Ensure all safety measures are shared with all employees and that their health and wellbeing is the number one priority, encourage them to share any concerns and empower them to request that golfers adhere to social distancing measures and report any issues to managers

5. Resuming Full Services

Over time the full services provided by the club and professional staff will resume. However, it must be noted that there may be certain restrictions in place for some time, such as a degree of social distancing, that will necessitate a phased return to full operation.

You can read the full document here

More information can also be found by visiting the professional bodies' websites here: PGA, BIGGA, GCMA

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