The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Has His Say on Playing Golf During This Period of Uncertainty


A member of the health select committee had a question many of us golfers wanted to know the answer to. Dean Russell MP asked, “Exercise is going to be key [especially for older people]. If someone wants to play golf, can they still do that if they’re not close together?”

The UK’s chief scientific adviser has responded by effectively saying it is an activity that is allowable. Sir Patrick Vallance said, “It is OK – if you keep a distance.”

Sir Patrick Vallance then went on to state, “We’re not asking everyone to be completely isolated. The specific advice is to avoid close contact. A walk is OK if you keep a distance.”

Numerous golf events around the globe have been postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several golf clubs have reported that the virus has hit at least one member, and in most cases the club has remained open in the UK. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all countries, including closures in European countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In response and to help assist the golf industry in the UK, BIGGA, the PGA, the GCMA and the R&A have produced a guideline document for UK golf clubs. Click here to view their guidelines.

‘Your golf facility needs to have a senior group of managers who are in constant contact and can spring in to action if something happens. This should be your club manager / secretary, course manager / head greenkeeper and PGA professional and any other relevant department heads. During a period of heightened risk, meet on a daily basis and provide an update on staff absence, business pressures such as stock levels or machinery maintenance and other matters. When the crisis subsides, this group should continue to meet on a monthly basis to ensure policies are maintained and updated,’ it states.

‘Engage in a dialogue with the other golf clubs in your immediate area and discuss an action plan. If one of your clubs is forced to close, is there a reciprocal arrangement in place to allow members to play at a different facility?’

Wales Golf Chief Executive, Richard Dixon has also stated, “Golf in the open air should be a safe environment for players, as long as they take suitable precautions in line with the latest health advice”

#KeepGolfOpen have you signed the petition?

Golf is unique as it requires no person to person contact. If closures occur, 30% of clubs could potentially go bankrupt and close, affecting hundreds of thousands of employees and associated industries. Also, if the course is closed and green staff stop maintaining the course it will take years to bring it back into playing condition.

Just short of 2 million people play golf each week, many are under 70 years old! The loss of their recreational activity, social discussions and time spent with friends and partners walking in fresh air will be lost and could have serious unnecessary long-term effects on the health, physical and mental well-being of these golfers.

Even if you can’t get out to play at this moment in time, show support for your local club. Click here to sign the petition.

If you are in a position to get out onto the course, we have put together our own guidelines to ensure golfers are safe. Click here to discover them.

Written by Michaela Grossi

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