As the Coronavirus persists, social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions remain tight. The 4th January marked the third time English golf courses were placed on lockdown.
However, while close-contact sports have not yet resumed, the appropriate mitigations are relaxing limitations for outdoor sports such as tennis, grassroots football, and golf. Here is what you can expect from the golf community in the coming months.
So, when are golf courses reopening?
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has since confirmed the reopening of U.K. golf courses by 29th March. Compared to indoor sports, outdoor leisure activities boast much lower transmission rates.
Nonetheless, course-goers should anticipate some restrictions, including a two-household limit per location. As per England's neighbouring countries, courses in Wales and North Ireland will remain closed until further notice.
Golf trends you can expect in 2021
Despite the repercussions of the pandemic, there has been an unexpected surge in golf participation. Trends you can expect to see as courses reopen are:
As the demand for golf has increased, enthusiasts aim to play shorter three, six, or nine-hole courses instead of the typical 18-holes.
Bring your own equipment
To minimise shared equipment and contaminating touchpoints, expect to see a surge in players opting to pack personal gear.
While foreign entry into the UK has decreased, locals are showing deep interest in golf-related holiday bookings. Expect to see a constant rise in tee-ball staycations in the second quarter of 2021.
Preparing your turf
With recommencement on the rise, preparing your turf is imperative. There is no denying the nuisance that is an untended golf course - especially after an unforgiving winter.
The first step in preparing your turf for reopening is upping the frequency of mowing. Mowing heights will depend on your local climate, machinery, and course standards.
Prioritise tidying rough grass areas and reduce clippings. When the weather allows it, aerate grasses, fairways, and tees.
Do you spot any damage from burrowing animals? If so, you may need to sand up your bunkers. While still in the winter months, it's best to inspect your drainage system, including channels and ditches.
How can operators keep golfers safe when courses reopen?
While golf inherently adheres to social distancing protocols, there are several efforts groundsmen and greenkeepers can make to ensure a safe and enjoyable course.
Eliminate or remove non-essential equipment
While on-site tools such as scorecards, golf tees, and ball markers may be imperative to your golfers, you're better off temporarily removing these shared touchpoints. If you plan to retain flagsticks, curate a no-touch protocol among golfers.
Frequently sanitise equipment
Between uses, sanitise balls, golf and pull carts, and other shared equipment. Use industry-approved antimicrobial cleaners.
Use helpful tools for measuring distances
Who says golf GPS watches and rangefinders should be limited to gameplay? Encourage your course-goers to utilise these golfing staples to measure distances between courses and other players.
The bottom line
As 29th March 2021 looms closer, avid golfers are more than thrilled to come out of this third lockdown. If you are part of the 130,000 signatures petitioning for the reopening of golf courses in the UK, take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe space for players.