0 R&A sets out plans for return after coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted

Proposals for safe playing protocols have been submitted to the government in a bid to allow golf courses to open when lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Image; PGA / Jim McCabe

Leading administrators have considered ways for the sport to be played and a series of recommendations for "safe golf" have been published by the R&A.

The proposals include the removal of bunker rakes and ball retrievers.

Drinking fountains and ball washers should be covered and benches and bins made inaccessible to players.

The ideas have industry-wide backing from organisations such as England Golf, the Professional Golfers Association and other representative bodies.

Among other proposals are that flagsticks should not be touched and and a hole liner should be used to prevent balls from dropping below the surface of greens.

Tee times would be subject to a booking system with a minimum of 10 minute intervals. Clubhouses would remain closed other than to provide essential facilities such as toilets.

Trolleys and carts would not be available for hire unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed. Players will be reminded to remain two metres apart at all times and not to touch stray golf balls.

Golfers would use their feet to smooth over bunkers in the absence of rakes and clubs could allow balls to be lifted and placed in the hazards if necessary.

It is recommended that they play only social matchplay rounds rather than stroke play competitions.

In an email distributed on Wednesday by England Golf, chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson says: "The way everyone in golf has rallied together in these uncertain times fills me with great optimism for the future."

"Throughout these challenging times, England Golf has collaborated like never before with our colleagues in golf administration and presented a united front during many conversations with government."

"This collective approach has continued this week as we work with government to try and find the right conditions under which golf can return."

There is a feeling within the game that it is an activity that can be conducted within the parameters of social distancing and that it could be one of the first participation sports allowed to return after lockdown.

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