Are golf courses open to players in the England amid the November lockdown?
Golf Culture

Are golf courses open to players in the England amid the November lockdown?

Sunrise on Shane Bacon’s old caddie stomping grounds — the Old Course at St. Andrews (Photo by Brian Oar / Golf News Net)

After United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new lockdowns in an effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus, golf courses and driving ranges were immediately seeking clarity from the government if courses in the United Kingdom -- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- can remain open during the three-week order.

Are golf courses allowed to remain open in the United Kingdom?

Prime Minister Johnson's order included allowing citizens and residents the opportunity to leave the home once per day for exercise. The question is if golf could be one of those opportunities.

In England, golf cannot continue.

“Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks," read the government’s list of activities which will be made to stop from Nov. 5 through Dec. 2.

England Golf strongly called on courses in their respective countries to close in response to the order, similar to the March lockdown, when golf courses were also forced closed.

Golfers around the United Kingdom are upset to learn golf courses are closing for the next 4 weeks. A formal petition of the Parliament has met the 100,000 signature threshold to receive official consideration of Prime Minister Johnson's order.

In part, the petition reads, "Isolation essential to the Government’s strategy for fighting coronavirus, and UK citizens must remain healthy and exercise whilst keeping adequate distance between people. The Government should allow golf courses to open so families or individuals can play golf in order to exercise safely.

"This could be achieved on golf courses, whether families or individuals are playing rounds. On the course everyone can keep a safe distance from each other. Let's make use of the space and the open air. Golf can help people stay healthy and happy whilst observing social distancing rules."

Conceivably, golf could be allowed as a form of exercise within the rules laid out by Johnson. Regardless, England golf courses will be allowed to be maintained by staff during the new shutdown, which starts Thursday, Nov. 5.

Golf is allowed in Scotland

In Scotland, golf will be allowed during the November shutdown. Four golfers can play from four different households at this time.

Golf is not allowed in Wales

Golf courses in Wales had already been closed from Oct. 23 through Nov. 9 amid a renewed lockdown.

The impact on golf could be huge

Approximately 2 million people play golf weekly in the United Kingdom, and the fear is some 30 percent of courses could be closed permanently with long-term forced closures.

In the United States, golf courses have remained open even as states have seen a dramatic increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases around the country.

English golfers will likely be looking at keeping the clubs at home for four weeks or playing golf indoors.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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