How is Covid affecting golf? The current restrictions in place across Great Britain and Ireland

As coronavirus cases soar across Great Britain and Ireland, governments have been tightening the rules in a bid to manage the pandemic.

And those instructions, that set out what you can and cannot do depending on the country, or area, in which you live, are naturally affecting golf.

But if you find yourself confused about what it all means, as new restrictions come into force, we set out the rules for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as they stand and what they mean for your club…


Updated: January 4

Golf courses in England have been told to shut once again as prime minister Boris Johnson put the nation into a new lockdown.

Instructing people they must stay at home, government guidance stated that “outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close”.

Despite speculation in national press, there is still no set date for golf’s return in England and Johnson is expected to have an update when he addresses the nation on March 22.


Updated: January 5

Golf has been classed as an example of a “reasonable excuse to go out” in new stay at home regulations announced by the Scottish Government.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a series of stricter lockdown measures for mainland Scotland, coming into effect from January 5, in the light of a surge of cases over the Christmas and New Year period.

New laws will compel Scots to stay at home and work from home where they can.

People will only be allowed to meet one person from one other household outdoors and, by law, in a Level 4 area, people can leave their home only if they have a “reasonable excuse”, aside from an essential purpose.

A guidance document issued by the Scottish Government said that examples of reasonable excuses to go out include: “Local outdoor recreation, sport or exercise, walking, cycling, golf, or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area) as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households.”

In a further section on sport and exercise, the document stated: “Outdoor non-contact sports such as golf and tennis are permitted for all age groups provided this is within a single household group, or the group contains no more than two people from two different households.  Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number.”

The document added that “although you can leave home for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible.”

And it continued: “Travel no further than you need to reach a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way. To minimise the risk of spread of Coronavirus it is crucial that we all avoid unnecessary travel.”

Scottish Golf later issued a statement confirming that golf courses could “remain open for play with a maximum of two players from up to two households”.

They added: “Scottish Golf asks that all golf clubs and golfers adhere to the new guidance with the same spirit and integrity that has been shown throughout the last year to ensure we can all continue to benefit from playing golf through this new period of restrictions.” 

Outdoor coaching is restricted to two people (including the coach) for those 12 years or over. Under 12s don’t count towards that number and a coach can take larger groups of up to 30 U12s.


Updated: February 18

First minister Mark Drakeford has announced that there was no change to the current Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Golf clubs in Wales have been closed since December 19 and all non-essential retail, hospitality venue, licensed premises and leisure facilities must stay shut.

The Welsh Government said the next review would take place on March 12.

In a statement, Wales Golf said: “The Welsh Government agreed that golf is a sport that can be played in a safe, socially distanced manner. Their main concerns were with the potential Wales-wide impact of relaxing the ‘stay at home’ restrictions, and the cumulative impact of doing this.”

CEO Richard Dixon added: “I would like to thank all our Welsh clubs for the excellent work you have been doing in helping to keep our sport, golfers and communities safe. By continuing this effort, we will put golf in a strong position to return as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Northern Ireland

Updated: January 5

Golf Ireland advised that, from 12.01am on Boxing Day, golf clubs had to close. The closure was scheduled to last for six weeks but is subject to a formal review after four weeks.

Republic of Ireland

Updated: January 5

Golf clubs, along with other sporting facilities, were closed by the Irish Government from midnight on December 30 when Level 5 restrictions were reinstated.

Can golfers travel from one country to another?

No. You are not allowed to travel between countries in Great Britain and Ireland to play golf.

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