Several of the golfing bodies have responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday about the return to playing golf on 29th March 2021.
In arguably the most impactful response the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) sought support for its greenkeepers as the timetable for golf’s return was set out.
Their response stated “As the members’ association for golf greenkeepers in the UK, BIGGA is acutely aware that golfers are eager to get back out on the course and start enjoying the limitless physical and mental health benefits of our wonderful sport.
However, as golfers have found in Scotland, where courses have remained open for limited play, this has been an incredibly wet and difficult winter and many greenkeepers have reported being able to do very limited maintenance throughout the colder months.
As such, while disappointed that the restart of golf will not be until 29 March in England, BIGGA welcomes the notice period as it will enable golf facilities to complete any essential winter maintenance and prepare the course for play to a standard that will not be detrimental to the long-term health of the facility.
Over the coming weeks BIGGA will be working alongside the governing bodies in golf to provide information regarding reasonable expectations of course presentation, so that returning golfers are aware of the challenges greenkeepers have faced with regards climate, staffing and COVID-19 restrictions and to ensure a safe, happy and prosperous return to golf for everyone.
England Golf expressed disappointment. In their statement they said “England Golf is extremely disappointed that the scientific evidence presented to government detailing how the sport can be played in a Covid-secure manner has not resulted in a return to play date earlier than 29 March.
“We will now examine the details of the government’s roadmap before making further comment and working with our community of clubs, counties and golfers to prepare for the game’s safe return.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf said “Industry bodies involved with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf awaited today’s announcement from the prime minister with great interest.
“Boris Johnson has now confirmed that golf will be included in the first wave of sports able to return once the national legal requirements to stay at home end on 29 March.
“A meeting of the APPG with industry bodies is scheduled to take place this Wednesday (24 February) to consider the impact of the statement on the sport in England, and the full details are now being reviewed by the industry bodies, specifically the impact of the different levels on different aspects of golf including playing, coaching, retail, and club fitting, as well the implications for driving ranges and practice facilities.
“Members are encouraged to review England Golf’s website for further details and updates. All premises are encouraged to ensure risk assessments and action plans comply with local guidance ahead of the restart.”
The Professional Golfers Association urged its members to review The PGA's COVID-19 Resource Hub, located on the PGA website, for further details and updates and at the same time encouraged all premises to ensure risk assessments and action plans comply with local guidance ahead of the restart.
Golf clubs in England have been closed since the third Covid lockdown came into force on January 5. This is despite pleas from England Golf and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, who earlier this month issued a report – backed by scientific advice – claiming golf could safely be played during lockdown.
The Cornwall Golf Union will continue to update on advice and information it receives as preparations get underway for the return of golf.