Ireland publishes five-step plan for re-opening golf courses

Carne 16Th

The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union have published a thorough set of guidelines for the re-opening of golf courses on the Emerald Isle.

Last week, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced plans to ease coronavirus restrictions in the country, beginning from Monday, May 18. 

In advance of that, the governing bodies for Irish amateur golf have outlined a five-phase plan for resuming play. 

Phase 1 - May 18

- Group sizes and tee time intervals are to be limited to three-balls at 14-minute intervals; two-balls at 12-minute intervals; or individual players at 10-minute intervals. 

- Casual golf only. No competitions. 

- Members only (under 18s must play with an adult).

- Clubhouses must remain closed with the exception of the pro shop (for check-in only), toilet facilities and locker rooms (for retrieval of golf equipment).

• Scottish golf courses "must stay closed"

• 90% of US courses to be open by May 17

Phase 2 - June 8

- Group sizes and tee time intervals are to be limited to three-balls at 13-minute intervals; two-balls at 11-minute intervals; or individual players at 9-minute intervals. 

- Closed club competitions now permitted.

- Members and members' guests only. Under 18s must continue to play with an adult.

- Clubhouses must remain closed with the exception of the pro shop, toilet facilities and locker rooms (for retrieval of golf equipment).

• Rory McIlroy hailed as "King of the PGA Tour"

Phase 3 - June 29

- Group sizes and tee time intervals are to be limited to four-balls at 13-minute intervals; three-balls at 12-minute intervals; or two-balls at 10-minute intervals. 

- Open club competitions permitted from this date.

- Visitors permitted from this date. Under 18s may now play together.

- Pro shop toilet, facilities, locker rooms and club restaurants may open, subject to strict guidelines.

• Member threatens to sue club over COVID closure

Phase 4 - July 20

- Group sizes and tee time intervals are to be limited to four-balls at 13-minute intervals; three-balls at 11-minute intervals; or two-balls at 9-minute intervals. 

Phase 5 - August 10

- Group sizes and tee time intervals are to be limited to four-balls at 12-minute intervals; three-balls at 10-minute intervals; or two-balls at 8-minute intervals. 

- Clubhouse bars may open from this date (subject to strict guidelines).

The picture in Ireland is in stark contrast to the current scene in Scotland.

Yesterday, Scottish Golf and the Scottish Government issued a joint statement instructing golf courses to remain closed amid speculation that some had planned to re-open next week. 

The directive also ordered golfers to continue to refrain from playing golf until such times as the easing of lockdown restrictions is formally announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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