Golf courses in the Republic of Ireland have been given the green light to re-open on a restricted basis from May 18.
The move comes as part of a wider relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in Ireland, which will allow more extensive exercise, and a wider catchment area of travel.
Clubs will initially be open for member-play only, with no competitions and social distancing measures in place. Tee times will have to be pre-booked and groups could be restricted to two-balls maximum.
The Golfing Union of Ireland, Golf Ireland, and the Irish Ladies Golf Union are currently working on a detailed document that will outline the operational practices that will have to be in place before opening, which will be distributed to all clubs well in advance of May 18.
Mark Kennelly, CEO of Golf Ireland, said: “The golf community in Ireland welcomes the Taoiseach’s confirmation that our clubs can reopen on a restricted basis in the first phase of the government’s plan to ease the Covid-19 restrictions. This means that golf will be one of the first sports to resume and will give golf club members the opportunity to return to play on a limited but safe basis.”
He added: “Golf offers the potential to play a significant role in the recovery from this crisis in public health terms. Our sport provides a valuable outlet for healthy outdoor activity which can be enjoyed with the appropriate safety measures in place. We hope that, later in the year, golf can also make a valuable contribution to economic recovery, particularly in the domestic tourism sector.
“On behalf of the national governing bodies, I want thank the golfers of Ireland for putting the health of their communities and fellow members first during this crisis and to urge them to continue to strictly adhere to the protocols for safe golf, which will be finalised shortly, and to continue to follow the public health advice of the Government and health authorities.”