Does this spell good news for golf courses in the UK?


Is this a good sign for golf in the United Kingdom?

Layouts in New Zealand opened for play today for the first time in five weeks having been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In that time, no-one has been allowed to as much as practice on a golf course in the country with flagsticks removed as well as tee markers.

The re-opening of the courses, as the country drops from alert level four to alert level three, comes with strict conditions. 

For example, to avoid the touching of common surfaces, flagsticks will remain absent. Greenkeepers have been asked to cut a hole in the centre of greens.

There will be no rakes in bunkers. Golfers are asked to do their best to smooth the sand after having played their shot. 

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Cups of holes are being turned upside down and slightly raised above ground level, with people allowed only to play within their household bubble. That will mean a group of one for most people or maybe a group of two, such as a husband and wife.

Tee times are to be at least six minutes apart, which means as few as ten players could tee off in the period of one hour. 

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All players will need to book tee times so that clubs can trace who has played.

Clubhouses are to remain closed. That means no bar, restaurant or golf shop sales.

Scorecards will not be able to be printed but, with New Zealand Golf continuing not to accept scores for handicapping purposes for the time being, that should make no material difference.

Group gatherings are not permitted and players will be asked to leave the course as soon as they have finished their rounds.

New Zealand has 390 golf courses, one of the highest per capita in the world. The country has also been praised for its efficient handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen only 19 deaths recorded. 

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Other countries have also started to relax their restrictions on playing golf, including Japan and Denmark. Some states in the US have done likewise. 

Golf courses in the UK have been closed since the government announced tighter public restrictions with a view to containing the spread of the pandemic on March 23. Those restrictions were extended on April 16 and are due for review on May 7.

Additional reporting: Paul Gueorgieff, Golfer Pacific

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