Yes, the news on return to golf after lockdown is something to be happy about, express relief of, and get excited. The announcement has brought back new life to the golf courses and invigorated the golfers. That they can step out in their routine practice is like to get refreshed after an 8-week extended homestay.
In response, clubs in the overwhelming majority have already started their preparations to be back in golf. According to the new guidelines, the clubs will have to ensure certain things so that social distancing is maintained.
All the new updates advised by the authority are the golf social distancing guidelines to keep every individual involved in a safe distance. Only then can they arrange two-ball and four-ball golf matches.
If they can conduct score boarding in a way other than the traditional practice, they can even organize stroke matches – the most popular golf playing format across the globe.
Why Restrictions in playing golf during a pandemic?
Golf after lockdown is nothing but a sensitive response to the yearning of the golf industry. Golf is one of the games played among fewer players, and the lowest number of competitors to compete in a golf match is two. Players need not mandatorily come into direct contact with each other when playing.
But there are certain moments and situations in the course of the game when participants need to go into indirect touch or get pretty close, amounting to a violation of social distancing.
Moreover, there come a vast number of spectators around the golf location where a match is taking place. These are the reasons lockdown was imposed on playing golf along with all other indoor and outdoor games. With the Covid-19 pandemic situation showing a downward trend, authorities and regulatory bodies relax the ban on the elite game. But not without the new golf social distancing rules that must be observed by the players and imposed or implemented by the clubs.
Today, in this short article, we will cover the latest updates or post-lockdown golf rules to follow.
Here is how to Play Golf After lockdown
Overall golf courses after lockdown
Golfers after the lockdown will witness the golf course anew. They will miss certain things they have been used to. The bunkers will be without rakes, which means that the players now have to smooth the sand in the bunkers using the club and shoes. To make a list longer, now there will be no bin, ball washer, benches and drinking fountain. All the mentioned things will go missing from the course.
A golf course being an extensive area requires the mentioned facilities scattered across the several-kilometer golf green. But they are the things that will surely come into contact with every player engaged when playing a match. Another such thing that is touched by every participant is the flagstick. Unlike the other placed-out things, it will stay upright in the typical location but no golfer can contact it now.
Practice zones in the course are specially mentioned in the eight-page social distancing golf rules to keep closed. And even the nets will remain closed if the players do not practice safe sanitization methods.
Necessary precaution before playing
The new golf rules after lockdown request the clubs to introduce the system of booking and allotment of tee times before every round. And there must be a minimum gap of 10 minutes between the two consecutive tee times.
If group matches are to take place, a group must not consist of more than two players. To the utter dismay of the golfers, the clubhouses and locker rooms will not be accessible. But the toilets will remain open for limited use.
The typical spots like pro shop, practice putting green, and starter’s hut have the close gathering. The clubs must ensure social distancing in those places either by club directives or verbal motivations.
Like the practice nets area, the crucial hiring items like trolleys and buggies may be allowed only if the users follow safe sanitization practices.
Necessary precaution during the match
The respective clubs organizing golf matches in this situation must provide proper guidance to the players that they must keep 2-meter distance from each other. Not to limit only in guidance, the clubs must remind the players off and on about the mandatory 2-meter distance.
Moreover, no player should touch a stray ball.
For obvious reasons, golfers must leave the club as soon as possible after the competition rounds are over. Thus how the gathering must be avoided.
To be safe, you should to take some more precautions. Like before packing up it in your car spray the equipment with some disinfectant such as the golf push cart handle, exterior side of the bag, etc.
Post-lock Down Interim Rules
R&A officially advises the following rules for the Post-lockdown period. These new social distancing golf rules are accepted until further notice suggesting new rules or withdrawing the interim ones arrive.
Updates on Format and Scoring
There is a recommendation for non-competition play during the outset of golf playing. And Stroke play matches are discouraged as they involve players taking part in different groups.
But there is no restriction imposed upon stroke play if the organizing club ensures that a time-befitting alternative replaces traditional scoring. Say, the handling and exchanging scorecards may be replaced by electronic scoring. Instead of submitting the scorecard manually to the Committee, e-mail forwarding may do.
It is up to Committee that may let stroke play hold with a different scoring system. The chosen scoring system should not strictly follow the rule of 3.3b or typical methods applied under 3.3b rule.
Let’s clarify for better understanding:
Bunkers should be derided of the rakes. That will necessitate the golfers themselves smoothing the sand in the bunkers with their club and shoes. The local club either can declare it a rule or the players may take care of it in due measure. But still, the decision to allow a rake in the bunkers rests on the Committee.
They can allow the bunker rake if the absence of a bunker rake affects the pleasure to a significant extent. In that case, they must ensure that the player places the ball one club-length away from the original spot.
The flagstick on the whole is untouchable now. Again, it rests on the committee’s decision to implement it – either through a code of conduct or by a local rule. And it can punish the violation by a penalty if the code of conduct is not followed or a breach of the local rule happens.
There can be a temporary provision of using flagstick for the safety of the players. In that case, the specifications mentioned in Part 8 Equipment Rules need not be met.
Hole & Holed
The whole cup or the hole liner should be in a way that the ball intended to hole cannot reach below the putting green surface. The ball will not touch other balls at it. And the ball will be considered holed if it or any part of it is beneath the putting green surface.
It is to ensure that the ball is not lifted from the hole. So the Committee should declare the ball holed if and when it is within 12 inches from the hole. As an alternative, the Committee can allow the hole cup lying above the green surface and consider the ball holed if it reaches the liner.
Responses and Reactions Across the Golf World
Almost all among 1800 clubs in England reopened as the news of post lockdown permission for golf reached them. Players, club organizers, and greenskeepers look more than happy as they can step out to their course after almost eight weeks of the homestay. Ed Sandison, a 34-year-old and 18-handicapped golfer from England, expressed his excitement and joy.
He said to the Guardian, “I couldn’t believe that my ball entered the cup and so I was checking elsewhere. The next 17 holes were just a laughing time-pass with my father-in-law Tony. And everyone I see around us was so happy being back to golf.” To comment on the new dictates on how to play golf after lockdown, he said that golfers would enjoy golf a bit differently from the traditional ways. The new guidelines are there for playing golf safely after lockdown and social distancing is a measure to maintain by all
On the other side, the top three players of the Golf world- Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka reacted to the conception that fans might not be allowed around the golf course as a potential threat to social distancing.
The overall response to the guidelines on return to golf after lockdown is more than positive. Everybody associated with golf playing expressed their sense of relief, joy, and excitement. Nobody has expressed their differences on the updates on golf rules suggested by the government. But the issue of social distancing is to maintain and so initial matches must be indoor without fans.
Golf clubs in England will abode by the advice given by England Golf. The guidelines have gained joint support from the R&A, other unions, and the bodies in the industry – associations of club managers and greenskeeper.