Following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown from PM Boris Johnson last week, golf’s national unions announced clubs and courses to be closed across the UK. This was also then followed by the R&A’s backing on this decision.
The government advice was for people to only leave their house to go to work, buy food or medicine, or to exercise once per day. There was some initial confusion which made some believe that golf was still open due to the fact that it is classed as exercise. However, it is considered to be a form of unnecessary travel getting to-and-from the course as well as clubs and courses being closed.
Is it safe for Greenkeepers to continue to work?
After the announcement was made, golf clubs began to seek clarification from the government, especially around if staff are still able to maintain golf courses during the lockdown. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have since issued a short statement that stating, “For security and essential maintenance reasons greens staff can still attend work”. However, all work must be carried out in accordance with government social distancing guidelines.
It became clear quickly that different clubs were interpreting this phrase very differently. Since this announcement was made, BIGGA and the R&A have worked on getting clarification on what is classed as essential work which, has now been established.
Along with new guidelines BIGGA and R&A made the following statement:
“The current stringent lockdown measures are hugely important to protect society from the virus. The following guidance produced by the R&A, with our support and input, sets out a maximum level of work that is considered essential for golf courses at this time.
The prime factor in all this is the health and safety of our members and their families. It is vital that work only takes place in the safest of environments with stringent measures in place to prevent greenkeepers being exposed to the virus. We believe that with good care it is possible to provide such an environment, but also believe that work should be kept to the minimum described.”
The guidelines that have been produced include what work can be carried out under general working practices, mowing, irrigation and nutrition and finally, machinery and equipment maintenance. Click here to read the guidelines in full.
BIGGA have also stated that the guidance will remain under constant review as climate conditions continue to change and if the lockdown period is extended.
Jim Croxton BIGGA CEO, told PlayMoreGolf, “The health and welfare of our members is our absolute priority. We urge all golf clubs to implement the most extensive measures to protect workers and also to reduce maintenance in line with the guidance. The guidance will evolve as conditions change and we are confident that if adhered to our members will still be able to deliver golf courses in good shape as soon as the crisis ends.”
What does this all mean for you the golfer?
With Spring just around the corner, the rain at bay and the sun finally peeking through. Golfers across the UK are itching to get back out there and play in these perfect conditions, once clubs and courses have been instructed to reopen. Without Greenkeepers being able to perform this essential maintenance, course conditions may have suffered when the current restrictions are lifted.
We must continue to be very thankful to the hardworking greens staff all across the country who are currently facing this time of uncertainty but, are still out on the golf course ensuring we all have a fantastically conditioned golf courses to play on when the time comes
In summary, the current guidance that should be taken:
For the avoidance of any doubt...
- Clubs, courses and other golf facilities in the UK have now close until instructed otherwise.
- Golfers MUST NOT attempt to play golf or undertake any golf activity out of their own homes.
- Greenkeepers MAY continue to attend work for security and essential maintenance purposes, but all work must adhere to government guidelines on social distancing.
BIGGA stress “that our members’ health and that of their families come first.”
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