Golf courses in England can reopen from Wednesday, May 13

By Alistair May 11, 2020 08:41

Golf courses and tennis courts in England can reopen from Wednesday, May 13, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation.

Golfers will only be allowed to play on their own or with members of their own household, as the new head of Scottish Golf suggested last month.

This only applies to golf courses in England – it is not yet known when golf courses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can reopen.

Golf courses in the Republic of Ireland can reopen from Monday, May 11, with a number of rules in place including that golfers can only be members of a club and they must live within 5km of it, but this does not apply to England

Mr Johnson said: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household.”

Sky News reported less than one hour after this speech that this means that ‘tennis courts and golf courses in England can reopen from Wednesday’.

‘Government officials said golf courses would be allowed to open – as long as social distancing is maintained – while other permitted activities will include water sports and angling,’ it reported.

Shortly afterwards, a number of governing golf bodies, including England Golf, issued this statement:

‘The UK government has announced that golf will be able to resume in England on Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

‘All outdoor sport must be done alone or within a household group and that includes golf.

‘There is no change to the current position in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and so golf courses in these countries must remain closed for now.

‘As a sport we must work together to resume play responsibly as and when the relevant government determines it is safe to do so. We must ensure that the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved from golfers, to club staff and greenkeepers is maintained at all times. Golf clubs and golfers have observed the lockdown very well and must keep it up and act responsibly as play resumes.

We recently provided documents giving guidance on operations and resuming play and golf clubs should consider this carefully as they restart their businesses. We also provided essential maintenance guidelines to help greenkeepers to prepare their courses for play. We fully appreciate the huge amount of expertise that exists within golf clubs throughout the country and this best practice guidance simply aims to achieve as consistent an approach as possible to protecting everyone. We are seeking further clarification from the government regarding other golf-related facilities.

‘The pandemic has already had a substantial impact on golf clubs and venues and the focus will soon turn to trying to recover from the crisis. As a group we will continue to do all we can to provide support and guidance in that effort.’

Earlier, the UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, tweeted: ‘In recent weeks our daily exercise has been so important to our health & wellbeing. Now in tentative steps fwd, & in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing – solo/in households. Guidance to follow.’

It means that golf courses in England will have been closed for nearly two months, from March 23 to May 13, but courses in the other countries that make up the UK will be closed for even longer.

In a pre-recorded address to the nation, the prime minister added that the government wants to “encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” – provided they stick to social distancing guidelines and stay two metres apart.

Image from Twitter

The PM stressed that now “is not the time” to end the lockdown altogether – and said the government is simply taking “the first careful steps” to ease certain measures.

That includes golf in England and the 48 to 72 hour notice period comes after reports suggested the notice could be anywhere from overnight to three weeks, with many in the industry hoping it would be nearer to 72 hours.

He added that some of the hospitality industry and other public places could begin to reopen in July at the earliest “if and only if the numbers support it”.

This suggests that golf clubhouses in the UK could reopen in the second half of the summer.

Sky News reported, shortly after Johnson’s speech was aired, that his comments about “playing sports” means golf courses in England can reopen from Wednesday

The Guardian also reported that golf courses in England can reopen on Wednesday.

It wrote: ‘More immediately, people in England will be allowed to sit in parks within their household groups, to drive to beauty spots for walks, and to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. People will be able to meet and sit down with a single other person from another household outdoors as long as they stay two metres apart. Angling, swimming in lakes or rivers, tennis and golf will all be allowed if people are sticking to their household groups.’

As The Scotsman is reporting, this means that golf courses will be reopening on different dates across the British Isles. They will be reopening on May 13 in England and on May 18 in the Republic Ireland, but it is not known at the moment when they will reopen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The resumption of golf in England comes as the golf industry in Ireland has issued a five-phase plan to get golf clubs fully reopened by the end of the summer.


By Alistair May 11, 2020 08:41

Follow us on social media

Latest greenkeeping vacancies

Join Our Mailing List

Advertise with Greenkeeping

To advertise in the magazine or online, contact:

View our latest issues