Freedom Day: How New Rules Affect Your Golf Club

Freedom Day: How New Rules Affect Your Golf Club

Steve Carroll rounds up all the new changes to coronavirus restrictions and what they mean for golf in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

England is Freedom Day and a number of other coronavirus restrictions have been eased across the UK – all of which are affecting the way you can play golf.

We summarize the changes and the latest guidelines from the sports federations in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland …


England Golf’s guidelines were updated on July 19th to include “Lifting All Course Item Restrictions” and ending social distancing.

The governing body has changed its Play Safe, Stay Safe framework, which means that “all golf course furniture can be returned for normal use, including the removal of flagpoles, standard hole cups, bunker rakes and ball washers”.

England Golf has recommended that clubs provide hand sanitizing stations on the course and around the practice facilities to ensure golfers can regularly clean their hands.

In a three-page document, they also point out that competition and evaluation – such as the handling and submission of scorecards – can return to the state before the pandemic.

“Coronavirus-related changes to the rules of golf and all handicap regulations that made it possible to play the game competitively during the period in which the restrictions were set.”

While the updates signal a return to normal golfing, England Golf has recommended that clubs “maintain some form of tee booking or player registration system”.

Pro-shops, clubhouses, hospitality areas, changing rooms and other indoor areas can operate as usual, while the planned repeal of the rules on social distancing and gathering numbers means, of course, that “there are no restrictions on the golf course in terms of space “. Furniture, sharing equipment, touching golf balls, or group sizes that are beyond the limits set by the club. “


Wales has fully embraced the warning level 1 restrictions and took the first steps towards warning level zero on Saturday 17th July.

Wales Golf has relaxed the guidelines for clubs in the country, but advises that if any changes are made they must conduct a thorough risk assessment and should consult their health and safety advisor and insurance provider if any changes are made.

The Board of Directors has confirmed that the following changes have come into force:

+ Scoring in the line game (Rule 3.3b) – The provisions of rule 3.3b apply when the player’s score is recorded on his scorecard by a marker. Confirmation of the scorecard by the marker and the player should be in accordance with the guidelines of rule 3.3b (2).

+ Flag sticks – It will no longer be necessary to always leave the flagstick in the hole.

+ Hole and definition of hole – Coronavirus-related changes to the definition of a hole and when the ball is holed are now removed.

+ Rake – Preferred lying in bunkers will no longer be permitted and bunkers should no longer be repaired, so it is recommended that rakes be returned to the site.

+ Equipment in the course – Equipment such as ball washing machines, benches, rubbish bins, etc. can be used on the site.

+ Social distancing – The regulations no longer specifically emphasize the physical distance of 2 meters outside.

Clubs that wish to allow this must carry out a risk assessment for the shared use of buggies. Wales Golf says extenuating circumstances could include the use of a screen and / or the driver and passenger remaining for the entire round of golf.

They state that strollers should be thoroughly disinfected before and after each use.

Touching flagsticks and rakes, Wales Golf says clubs “should have regular hand sanitizing stations on the golf course and golfers should be reminded to bring their own hand sanitizer”.

They add, “Clubs should also provide guidance to golfers, including the fact that all gloves should be removed and hands disinfected before touching course items. After touching an object on the course, hands should be disinfected again. In addition, the items should be cleaned regularly. “


Mainland Scotland was upgraded to Protection Level 0 on Monday 19th July and Scottish Golf updated its guidelines with the following important changes:

+ Outdoor bubbles (coaching & competition) up to 500 without a participant limit per day

+ Changing rooms / changing rooms are allowed to reopen

+ Indoor hospitality extends to groups of 10 people from 4 households

+ All golf course furniture can be returned for normal use, including the removal of flagpoles, standard hole cups and bunker rakes

+ Preferred bunker locations can remain at the club’s discretion, as not every golfer wants to use a shared rake

Scottish Golf recommends that each club conduct a risk assessment that is “specific to the situation at their club”.

The governing body adds, “While this latest update is another step forward in the return to golf and its traditions as we know it, we urge everyone to continue to conduct a risk assessment for their specific environment until restrictions are fully lifted Respecting different perspectives on risk will continue to have an impact on the wide range of golfers in Scotland. “

Northern Ireland

Golf in Northern Ireland reopened on April 1st and April 26th in the Republic of Ireland. Click here for the latest Northern Ireland Return to Golf Protocol which became effective June 7th and click here for the republic measures which went into effect the same day.

Are you pulling out the flag and swapping scorecards or will your club be more cautious? Let me know in the comments or tweet me.

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