Golfers eager to learn just how they will be able to start playing on May 18 crashed the Irish governing bodies’ website last night in their clamour to read the Protocol for the safe resumption of the sport.
Golfnet.ie went down at around 8.30pm tonight shortly after the Golfing Union of Ireland and Irish Ladies Golf Union published their plan.
Golf has been included in Phase 1 of the Irish Government’s Roadmap out of the Covid-19 lockdown and the Protocol underlines the Unions’ sense that all eyes will be on golfers when they return to their courses a week on Monday.
“As one of the first sports to be allowed to resume, there is a major responsibility on golf clubs and golfers to ensure that our sport is conducted in a safe and responsible manner.
"Full adherence to the provisions of this Protocol is absolutely essential,” the introduction to the Protocol reads before noting that restrictions could be reintroduced by the Government if the guidelines are not followed.
The Protocol offers guidelines for clubs and golfers alike and among the key points outlined is that courses will be open to members only and only for casual golf.
Club competitions will not be permitted until Phase 2 comes into force on June 8.
Some of the key points include all bookings for tee times are to be made online or by telephone, playing group sizes will determine the intervals between tee times that a club decides to introduce.
If a club wants to accommodate three-balls, the group must start at 14-minute intervals, two-balls will be allowed to start at 12-minute intervals while if a club wants to reduce the tee-time interval to 10 minutes then only individual golfers playing alone will be permitted.
A club must stick to the same interval throughout that given day.
Clubhouses, bars, and restaurants must remain closed during this first phase with access to the pro shop only for check-in purposes.
Toilet facilities may be accessible and locker rooms for the retrieval of equipment but golfers have been instructed to arrive at courses just five minutes before their tee time and leave directly after their rounds.
Under-18s must be accompanied by an adult with the Protocol saying that playing groups “should” be comprised of members of the same household.
The Government’s general guidelines on travel for exercise within five kilometres of home and of social distancing should be adhered to at all times while clubs have been asked to to remove bunker rakes and all unnecessary on-course furniture, provide hand sanitisers and make holes safe by raising the cups so they or flagsticks need not be touched.
The statement accompanying the protocol added that its guidelines “governing the safe playing of the game may be updated in line with any changes to public health measures.
“For these reasons, we will continue to monitor developments very closely and will update our advice as required.
"It is essential, therefore, that golf clubs and golfers regularly check www.golfnet.ie for updates on these matters.
The full protocol can be read here.