While all golf clubs in the UK and Ireland remain closed during the current Covid-19 lockdown, some countries are beginning to loosen restrictions as cases of the virus begin to slowdown.
New Zealand, which has reported just 14 coronavirus-related deaths and fewer than 1,500 positive cases, is still currently at Alert Level 3, but is preparing to allow the majority of its 397 golf clubs to re-open on April 28. Each venue will be able to decide whether or not they wish to open depending on whether they can meet the strict operating guidelines set out by Sport New Zealand.
Publicly-owned courses will remain closed, but private courses can be opened to members and visitors providing stringent contact tracing measures are in place.
Guidelines issued by New Zealand Golf include the need for clubs to sanitise all surfaces, remove flags from the course, and ensure golfers maintain social distancing at all times and only allow play with people inside their own lockdown bubble. Clubs, balls, towels and water bottles must not be shared, while buggies are restricted to one per player. Tee times have to be pre-booked, and all clubhouse facilities, including changing rooms and toilets, will remain closed.
New Zealand Golf CEO Dean Murphy said: “This is a really serious thing the country’s going through and we are going to follow the guidelines,” he said. “But it’s good that in some manner we’ll be able to get some people golfing next week. Just because some courses are opening, it doesn’t mean it’s normal golf. There will be no scorecards, no flags, no handicaps. It’s really just like going for a walk and hitting a ball with a club.”