English golf courses get date for re-opening

Course Closed Sign

The government has confirmed that golf courses in England will be allowed to open from Wednesday, December 2.

The news was revealed in the House of Commons this afternoon as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, outlined plans for a return to the three-tiered regional COVID-19 mitigation measures when the current restrictions are eased.

Regions will find out which of the three tiers they are in on Thursday, the allocation of which will be dependent on a number of factors, including each area's case numbers, its 'R' number, and the current and projected pressure on the NHS locally.

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Despite intense lobbying from the All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group and England Golf, the country’s golf facilities were instructed to close on November 5 as part of new measures designed to control the spread of the coronavirus. 

Former European Tour winner Nick Dougherty has been a strong critic of the decision, with former world No.1 Lee Westwood also calling on the government to "see sense" and allow them to re-open.

Today, the government bowed to the will of the people and confirmed that golf - along with other outdoor sports - will be allowed to resume from next week.

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The announcement paves the way for golf to return at all COVID-19 alert levels within the Rule of Six, permitting fourball play without restrictions on the number of households.

Coaching, fitting and ranges will also be allowed to open, as will indoor hospitality facilities in tiers one and two. Those in tier three will be able to offer a takeaway service only.

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Speaking after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf’s Chairman, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey said: “I am sure all involved in golf in England welcome the sport’s return and the industry has yet again pulled together to form a coherent message to Government articulating why it was safe to do so.

“As was seen both before and during this lockdown, golf is a sport that can be played safely and the industry adapted quickly to manage the restrictions imposed previously.

“Golf now has operational experience and established COVID secure practices, including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ directive.

“It is therefore ideally placed to welcome people back when lockdown ends in all the home nations."

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He added: “The health and wellbeing benefits of playing golf are well documented in scientific literature and leaders in public health, public policy and sport from across the globe recognise that golf tackles physical inactivity and contributes to the prevention of a range of non-communicable diseases.

“Combining the undeniable benefits that golf offers to a significant proportion of the country, and the steps taken that ensure golf is a sport that can be played safely, the golf industry looks forward to welcoming players back and is confident it can meet future restrictions.”

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