Golf plays on, offering fresh air and exercise

17 March 2020 Announcement

Image by Graeme Roberts

Golf’s three professional governing bodies have issued further advice to golfers and the operators of golf clubs as a game to be enjoyed 'sensibly and safely' during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Government has continued its advice that exercise in the fresh air away from human contact should be continued, even for those in self-isolation.

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) and BIGGA have issued joint guidance on how golf clubs can continue to allow members and golfers to enjoy the game while observing some simple guidelines.

This information has been produced in addition to guidance shared by the three associations last week, which suggested ways golf clubs could ensure they are able to remain open for business.

The current restrictions do not prevent golf competitions or casual games taking place, but all golfers should follow some simple steps to maintain the low risk of infection. These measures should be agreed by the golf club following the current health and government advice guidelines. Once agreed, these should be communicated to members and presented to the wider audience via a club's website, potential booking platforms and social media. 

Download the latest guidance here.


While ‘business as usual’ may not be the case, the game can undoubtedly send out a positive message that it offers one of the safest ways to take exercise and interact socially with minimal personal contact while meeting current government guidelines.

Robert Maxfield, chief executive of The PGA, said: “We have always been aware of the wide range of mental and physical benefits that golf offers and it is now that these will really come to the fore. Golf clubs will be coming under pressure but we believe that with sensible precautions, many members and visitors may be able to continue to enjoy the game during these difficult times.

“We need to work together as an industry. By following positive but sensible set of guidelines, which we can all adhere to and then communicating those to golfers, we can continue to enjoy the sport in the months to come. The game can offer a level of social interaction that will be vital for certain sections of the community.”

Below are some best practice ideas that other governing bodies or golf clubs are beginning to adopt. There will be others and we will be sharing these on the Coronavirus Hub that has been developed by the three organisations.

Prior to the game:

  • Prioritise online services for entries, bookings and scoring.
  • Take payments using contactless means or online prior to the game.
  • Players with any colds or coughs or any symptoms of COVID-19 should be asked not to play.
  • Locker rooms should be closed to avoid players being near each other.  Allow the changing of shoes in the car park.
  • Shotgun starts with people congregating before and after are discouraged for the time being.
  • Putting green closure should be considered for larger events.
  • Golf buggies should be taken out of use or used by single individuals and cleaned afterwards

Advice for golfers on the golf course:

  • Insist on social distancing (two metre rule) on tee grounds, greens and throughout the rounds
  • Always leave the flag in the hole. Ask golfers to carefully remove their golf ball from the hole, not with a golf club. 
  • Remove rakes and any other pieces of course furniture that golfers may touch –  the greenkeeping team will prepare the course and, where possible, re-rake bunkers during the day. Golfers can wipe their own golf balls on a towel
  • No divot bags provided. 
  • Drinking fonts and ball cleaners taken out of play. 
  • Airlines for cleaning shoes following the round should be closed.
  • Golfers should only pick their own ball up
  • Do not share any equipment, such as golf clubs or rangefinders
  • Don’t shake hands before or after your game
  • Have hand sanitisers available as golfers leave the golf course

After the game

  • Handling of scorecards is a vulnerability, especially for staff members tasked with checking cards and finalising results.  Arrange for this to be done online where possible
  • Adjust your catering provision to reduce physical contact through greater space between seating in the clubhouse if possible
  • Use disposable plates and cups and have hand washing facilities available on every table
  • Hand sanitisers should be made available throughout the clubhouse. 
  • Regular changing of towels in bathrooms (advice recommends every hour) would be required and regular cleaning of surfaces including door handles.  
  • Society bookings where food and social interaction is involved afterwards should be limited in accordance with the latest guidance​.
  • Follow government advice as mandatory closure of clubhouses may be introduced in the coming days
Download the latest guidance here.


Phil Grice, chairman of the GCMA and PGA Member, said: “We are aware that these are very uncertain times for all businesses and their employees and golf clubs are no exception. This also follows a difficult winter where many clubs have already been severely impacted.

“The wellbeing of the professional staff and their teams should be a priority for the operators of golf clubs and volunteer committees. Many are self-employed – PGA Professionals especially – and are facing a difficult period where all aspects of their business – retail, lessons, anything that requires day to day interaction – will be severely limited.”

The three professional associations continue to be in constant dialogue and will continue to issue advice practicable to their members as this situation develops.

A website resource for more guidance about COVID-19 is available here.




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