Cork courses cleared to reopen but 5km travel restrictions will limit many golfers

Cork courses cleared to reopen but 5km travel restrictions will limit many golfers
The picturesque view from the 13th green in Muskerry Golf Club. Picture: Niall O'Shea

GOLFERS are preparing for a return to courses on May 18. 

The governing bodies of Irish golf have issued protocols for the sport restarting, though it still be tricky for many to get back in action as there is a government 5km restriction in place for non-essential travel.

The GUI and ILGU have been working with the HSE and government for over two months and golf is among the first sports to return. 

They have produced a comprehensive document for club and courses, and that contained their five-phase plan which runs in line with the government’s five phases of rebooting the country following the Covid-19 lockdown.

The biggest discussion point for golfers last week was the 5km travel rule, with many golfers say this was unfair. 

Early last week ILGU CEO Sinead Heraty spoke on Radio 1. 

"I don't think anyone could say that playing a round of golf is critical in terms of overall public health. So we would be advocating that the 5km limit for golf is maintained as the government guidelines are saying." 

It was no surprise then to see no reference to the travel limit in the protocol. The recommendations on travel limits are public health guidelines, they are not a matter for the golf bodies.

The guidelines for the first phase propose a non-competitive format, limited to club members. Groups of three and two will be permitted as well as individuals with gaps of 15, 13 and 10 minutes recommended between each group. It recommends that any under 18s play with adults and that the clubhouse remains closed. 

All existing social distancing measures are being maintained as well as many positive recommendations about course furniture and procedures for arrival and departure from the course. The timing recommendations will mean that a maximum of 60 golfers would be on a course at any one time, that represents just over 50% of the normal capacity. 

Playing in threes, it means that around 100 golfers should be able to play each day.

There was a very positive reaction from most golfers when the details were finally published, with everyone happy that golf was one of only a few sports to be included in the first phase of the plan.

Phase two of post-lockdown Ireland begins on June 8 and the Government guidelines have indicated that the travel limit will be increased to 20km. The golf guidelines will be amended too from that date. 

Closed club competitions will be allowed, members and guests will be permitted to play but the maximum in one group will still be three. In all phases it’s recommended that booking is made in advance either over the phone or online.

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