In 11 days most golf courses in Cork will reopen following the Government announcement on Friday last. Most golfers will have welcomed the inclusion of golf in the first phase of the lifting of restrictions although questions remain on the 5km limit for non-essential travel. This sparked plenty of debate online over the weekend with many citing that the majority of members would be excluded if the 5km rule was not relaxed.
Despite that restriction the good news is that clubs will reopen on the 18th, and golf will return to a similar format to what golfers experienced prior to the lockdown. Social distancing, no course accessories like flags and rakes, and small groups of two or four are likely to feature in the initial phase. With the restrictions still applying to hospitality settings it’s unlikely that clubhouses and restaurants will open on the 18th May. The work of the governing bodies has been instrumental in ensuring that golf was included in the earlier stages of relaxing the lockdown rules. The GUI and ILGU have been busy in the past few weeks, liaising with the authorities on a range of issues. Those topics included the essential maintenance of courses which was not initially included in the original restrictions, as well the financial impact of the crisis on clubs and building a pathway for the safe resumption of golf.
A statement said that the governing bodies “have prepared a comprehensive draft protocol on the safe resumption of play on which we have been engaging with the Government over recent weeks. We now intend to finalise this protocol in the coming week, in consultation with the Government, and issue clear advice to our member clubs well in advance of the reopening of courses on 18 May. That advice will emphasise the absolute necessity of golf clubs adhering to the terms of the protocol for safe play.” The statement asked club and golfers for patience until the final advice is released. “In the initial stage, play will be for members only and competitions will not be permitted. We would ask clubs to refrain from opening timesheets for booking until the protocol is published, as it will contain vital information on group sizes and timesheet intervals.”
The statement also confirmed that the governing bodies will also continue to work closely with the Government in the coming weeks and months to seek support for golf clubs that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions. There has been lots of commentary on the impact of the closure of courses for over a month, the reduction of future green fee and society bookings, and the knock-on effect that it will have on the financial position of many clubs.