Golf courses not out of bounds during coronavirus pandemic

Players allowed to stay on course by following government guidelines.

Queensland’s golf courses remain open to players despite the government announcing further measures to restrict interaction between people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Golf Australia’s Queensland State Manager Luke Bates said while clubhouses were closed, except for the sale of takeaway food, golfers could continue to play by adhering to the government’s requirement for groups of people gathering in open spaces to be restricted to 10 or less while maintaining at least 1.5m separation between individuals.

Mr Bates said it was initially thought clubs would have to close completely after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced details of the Stage 1 lockdown on March 22 and further restrictions on March 24.

However, it has since been clarified they will be able to remain open under the current restrictions.

“We have had confirmation from the Chief Medical Health Officer that golf clubs in Queensland can open under the strict guidelines that are in place,” Mr Bates said.

He said golfers could play in groups of four or less but individuals had to maintain 1.5m spacing at all times.

“We are stressing as much as we can to clubs across the country to make sure they follow the guidelines,” Mr Bates said.

“The Department of Health and police will be monitoring facilities to ensure they are meeting those parameters.”

You want the space of the golf course to be key and you want people to be out in that space.
The ruling means golf is one of the few organised sports allowed to continue.

“It is a case of clubs watching members closely and as long as they are adhering to the policies that are in place then competition golf can be played,” Mr Bates said.

“If they find it is resulting in players spending too much time congregating with each other before and after play then courses may just be (restricted to) social golf.

“The key is you don’t want people hanging around and waiting for things. You want the space of the golf course to be key and you want people to be out in that space.”

Clubs were adjusting their procedures to ensure there was no congregation of players including increasing the length of time between groups starting their rounds.

The game’s ruling body, the R&A which is based at St Andrews in Scotland, is permitting clubs around the world to alter the sport’s rules to enable increased hygiene practices, removing the chance of contact between players.

These include allowing flagsticks to be left in holes at all times or not used at all, removing the need for players to exchange scorecards and allowing the raking of bunkers with feet or clubs rather than rakes.

Mr Bates said golfers needed to be mindful of the government’s new regulations before deciding to play.

“We have seen clubs communicating to members and stressing if they are feeling sick then don’t come to the club and if they have been travelling don’t come in within 14 days,” Mr Bates said.

“We have seen a number of clubs doing a really good job with that.

“There have been cases of members calling up and pulling out because they don’t feel comfortable, which we all understand, but at the same time clubs are saying it is nice to have people on the golf course and getting some income.”