Compulsory Wearing of Face Coverings in Golf ProShops from Friday 24 July 2020
England Golf COVID-19 Guidelines Update – 22 July 2020
On Wednesday 22 July 2020, England Golf updated their CoVID-19 Play Safe Framework on the wearing of face coverings in Golf ProShops following the UK Governments Guidelines.
To make reading easier England Golf have highlighted changes to their Play Safe guidelines in Blue.
From Friday 24 July it is mandatory for customers to wear a face covering inside a shop. This will apply inside stand-alone professional shops where a fine of up to £100 may be imposed on anyone breaking this rule.
There are some exemptions to wearing face coverings including children under the age of 11 and those with certain disabilities.
If the professional shop is located within a clubhouse and forms an integral part of that building, then there may be some discretion in the requirement for face coverings to be worn. Please check latest government advice.
You can download a copy of the England Golf Play Safe Framework for Players by clicking HERE.
With the World Handicap System up and running in most countries you can now search for the Slope Rating of many Golf Course, worldwide.
Introduction of the World Handicap System in GB&I is still on track for 2nd November 2020.
All Golf Clubs have been issued with digital educational material allowing them to organise club information sessions .
If you want to know your Golf Course’s, or any Golf Course’s, Slope Rating, follow the link below to the USGA Course Rating and Slope Database (TM) where you can, by entering details of a Golf Course, search for the Slope Rating of any Golf Course Worldwide which has had its Slope Rating issued for 2020. For England enter Country as ‘England’ NOT ‘UK and Leave the Club State field blank. Note that the layout you see will be different for Windows and iOS (iPad, iPhone) best layout is Windows:
It’s great to see so many of you out there playing golf, not just regular golfers but new golfers and some coming back into the fold.
I thought I would steer away from COVID-19 for a while and let you know something that not many of you may know about.
During the early part of Lockdown some members of golf Clubs cancelled their subscriptions and some Golf Clubs, to help their cash flow approached their National Organisations requesting a possible refund of affiliation fees.
Some, like Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, offered help:
Scottish Golf announced that it was inviting clubs to apply for a refund of up to 25% on their total 2019/20 affiliation fee invoice as part of an immediate financial commitment of more than half a million pounds.
Golf clubs in Wales were being given a five-month affiliation fee ‘holiday’ by the country’s national governing body to help offset estimates losses of £5.6million brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The way in which affiliation fees are collected does differ between nations and there are differences between the nations as to how the affiliation fee is spent which makes many golfers ask the question are affiliation fees good value?
In England, the situation with England Golf is, and this is my only experience:
As part of your club membership subscription you pay an annual affiliation fee to your National Golf Organisation, in the case of England this is England Golf. This will be £9.50 in 2020.
The following explains how England Golf uses the fee to benefit both you and the game of golf.
Obtain your handicap and authoritative advice: England Golf administers the CONGU handicap system and calculates and assign members’ handicaps, as well as adjudicate on queries.
Experience first-class competitions: Over 6,500 England Golf members of all ages and abilities compete in their 55 club, regional and national championship events every year.
Invest in elite amateur performing at the highest level: England Golf provides the very best coaching, competitive opportunities and funding for 150 regional and 50 national squad players.
Protect players and the sport’s reputation: England Golf keeps our sport safe, managing all safeguarding and disciplinary cases for the amateur game.
Help golf clubs thrive and grow: England Golf supports golf clubs to get more people playing golf. Last year this work introduced an additional 250,000 people to the game, which resulted in 17,000 new memberships.
Get great golfing benefits and discounts: Every England Golf member can take advantage of their ever-growing range of their exclusive offers, discounts and prize-draws by registering with our My England Golf programme.
Amongst these benefits is one that Golf Clubs do not always tell their members about and that is Personal Liability Insurance
As of 1 July 2019, every member is provided with £10m personal liability insurance as part of their affiliation to England Golf.
England Golf is working with specialist insurance broker Bluefin Sport to provide this cover, which is underwritten by Allianz.
It provides personal liability insurance for golf club members in the event that they are held liable for injuring someone or causing serious property damage at a golf facility.
The cover is provided for members playing at any club in the UK. There is no excess in respect of personal injury claims, and just a £500 excess in respect of damage to third party property.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak all golf clubs should be aware that insurance provided free to members via the England Golf affiliation fee is not valid during this period of course closure.
You can read the Insurance FAQs by clicking here or downloading a copy by clicking on the button below:
COVID-19 Restrictions – R&A, England Golf and CONGU Updates 29 June 2020
Well I hope everyone is managing to get out to play a little golf; it certainly feels a bit unusual playing under the COVID-19 restrictions, a bit clinical but at least we’re getting some golf in now.
Golf is a social game, and to have to leave a course as soon as you can after playing, takes some getting used to. This may change for some when Clubhouses can open, under strict conditions, on Saturday 4 July.
Remember however that the COVID-19 restrictions will still be in place and MUST be strictly adhered to comply with Government safety guidelines.
These restrictions are there for Clubs to provide a safe environment for staff and players and a means of being able to play golf safely.
The restrictions were agreed in consultation with the All-Part Parliamentary Group for Golf, led by Craig Stacey, the MP North Warwickshire and it was on England Golf’s assurance that all Golf Clubs would adhere to the restrictions that Golf Courses could open.
Many Clubs have enjoyed the opportunity to play social rounds and with the Government allowing groups of up to 4 people to play, some have even brought back competitions and qualifying rounds. I hope they do not abuse the easing of restrictions and assume it is ‘business as usual’. The pandemic still has some time to run.
The R&A and CONGU, without changing the Rules of Golf issued some temporary changes to the Rules to allow rounds to qualify for handicap purposes. These were first published at the beginning of June 2020 but were modified on Monday 29 June 2020.
You can read the full publication of England Golf’s ‘A Framework for Playing Golf’ and the R&A’s COVID-19 ‘Related Guidance on the rules of Golf’ by clicking on the respective link below.
The changes to note from the previous publications are:
All rakes and ball-retrievers to be removed. Players may bring their own personal rakes and retrievers, which should only be handled by that player and taken away at the end of their round
Open-top bins may be used on course, provided that measures are taken to sanitise the bin and to ensure players do not touch the bin or its contents
All other removable items to be removed, except that stakes defining areas of the course can be treated as immovable obstructions
A minimum 10-minute interval is advised between tee times, but clubs may use shorter intervals, provided that they can demonstrate that this is safe and ensures appropriate social distancing
Clubs/facilities to communicate in advance with golfers to advise on social distancing requirements that are being applied on arrival at the club/facility, for example not leaving cars until a certain time before their tee time
Clubs/facilities to have procedures in place for the practice putting green, for example giving priority of use to the players in the next group due to tee off
Caddies may be used, provided group sizes do not exceed those specified by government (4 people)
Where used, caddies should only provide guidance to players and should not handle clubs
Appropriate social distancing and sanitising should be maintained by players and caddies at all times
The distance for preferred lies in the bunker is limited to 6 inches and the area cannot be smoothed before placing.
Golfers are required to leave the flagstick in the hole at all times and not to touch it. It is a matter for the Committee to decide whether it establishes this policy by way of a Code of Conduct or Local Rule, and whether it provides a penalty under the Code of Conduct or for a breach of the Local Rule
Players may centre the flagstick in a safe manner which does not involve using the hand, even when wearing a glove or using a towel (for example, by using a club). The centring of the Flagstick may be allowed while another player putts (this may be desirable in windy conditions when the Flagstick is required to be left in the hole and is leaning towards the player making the stroke).
The hole liner (sometimes referred to as the hole ‘cup’) is to be set in a way that means that all of the ball cannot be below the surface of the putting green, so the ball is considered holed if any part of it is below the surface of the putting green
However, if any of the following provisions are used, play in such circumstances is not in accordance with the Rules of Golf:
Treating a ball as holed or holed with the next stroke if it is within a certain distance of the hole.
Having the hole liner sitting above the surface of the green and treating a ball as holed if it strikes the liner.
Treating a ball as holed when it has bounced out of the hole for any reason (for example, when it has bounced off the flagstick, a tray attached to the flagstick or the hole liner).
Golf clubs can sell takeaway food and drinks until indoor bar and catering facilities reopen on 4 July 2020, in line with their existing licences and provided food and drinks are only consumed on the course or away from the premises. From 4 July, indoor bar and catering facilities can reopen under strict control. Payments should be contactless or made during pre-order. Clubs are reminded outdoor seating areas around the clubhouse should not be in use at this time.
Three and fourball play to re-commence from 1 June
Words that many have been waiting patiently for since Golf courses were allowed to open.
It means that you can play with your friends and competitions can again be scheduled, although it will mean farewell to the gloriously enjoyable 3-hour rounds we have been playing over the last few weeks. One more player adds up to half an hour to a round, so look out for the 3hrs 30 mins and 3 hrs 50+ rounds.
England Golf is today pleased to confirm that threeball and fourball play can re-commence from Monday 1 June
It remains our recommendation for a minimum 10-minute interval between tee times.
Clubs may choose to run competitions provided social distancing (https://www.englandgolf.org/playsafe/) and safety regulations (https://www.englandgolf.org/coronavirus-faqs/) can be strictly observed at all times.
Full statement from UK golf bodies:
THE latest UK government adjustment of lockdown conditions now permits golf clubs in England to re-introduce the fourball format from Monday 1 June.
As part of a phased return to play, up to four golfers from four separate households may now play together in one single group from the above date.
For coaching in England, the impact of these changes remains unclear. The PGA are working in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf to seek confirmation. Further guidance will be communicated once clarity can be provided.
Please note it is essential that golfers continue to strictly observe social distancing and safety regulations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All other industry guidelines pertaining to the playing of the game remain unchanged from those issued ahead golf’s phase one return on 13 May.
While COVID-19 remains a live threat in our communities, we would ask everyone involved in the game to act responsibly, show respect and protect the wellbeing of golfers, staff and volunteers.
**The following organisations have come together to help golf in the UK during the COVID-19 crisis and, through the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, to work with Government to promote safe golf:
American Golf; The Belfry; the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association; the British Golf Industry Association; England Golf; the Golf Club Managers’ Association; Golf Ireland; the Golfing Union of Ireland; the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union; IMG; The Professional Golfers’ Association; PING; The R&A; Scottish Golf; Syngenta; the UK Golf Federation; Wales Golf.
You can download a copy of the Official statement by clicking on the download button below:
Playing Golf Under COVID-19 and an Update on the World Handicap System
Well, what a start to the 2020 Golfing year. First we have courses unplayable because of torrential rain and now, just when the season should be getting underway we have COVID-19 pandemic and total lockdown.
But, with the UK Government suggesting that we have passed through the first phase of the crisis, there is optimism that there may be an easing of some lockdown restriction.
The Golfing industry has taken this as very promising and several of golf’s governing and professional bodies have issued separate guidance to clubs on five main areas as the industry develops how the game could be played when lockdown restrictions start to be lifted, and bear in mind that Social Distancing and COVID-19 may be with us for a while to come.
Separate guidance statements have been released:
One from the R&A, one from England Golf, and a joint report from the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), British Golf Industry Association (BGIA), British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA), Foremost, Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA), TGI Golf, and the UK Golf Federation.
The guidance covers everything ranging from bunker rakes to flagsticks, the number of holes we are allowed to play, and clubhouses being reopened.
You can read each statement by following the links below:
The R&A statement suggests that, Clubhouses should be closed and competitions shouldn’t be played during the initial period when golf returns from the coronavirus lockdown and covers five main areas – course set-up, before, during and after the round and Rules of Golf related issues – after working with a range of UK bodies on how golf could be played when the government decides it is safe to begin easing the current restrictions.
On a lighter note, England Golf has today published an update to its information on the World Handicap System scheduled to be introduce in GB&I on 2 November 2020.
Their statement reads:
‘The hard work behind the scenes continues as we prepare for the launch of the World Handicap System in just six months’ time. Next week, we will roll out the latest stage of our education campaign to golfers ahead of the 2 November start date. There will be an easy to follow, step-by-step series on the key elements of WHS:
Enjoy your weekend as much as you can under these unprecedented circumstances, stay positive safe and well and we all will enjoy playing golf soon; albeit, not quite in the format we are used to for the time being.
Statement from England Golf on Monday 23 March 2020 in light of the UK Prime Minister’s Action to contain COVID-19 Pandemic
Clubs, courses and facilities must close
Following on from the Prime Minister’s statement tonight (23 March), in which he sated that everyone must now STAY at HOME (with some exceptions), certainly for a period of three weeks, a period that will be reviewed, golf clubs, courses and facilities in England must now close.
It is England Golf’s position that this deeply regrettable, but highly necessary and responsible course of action must be implemented with immediate effect and be maintained until further notice.
The government has identified an urgent need to introduce new restrictions on public life and on non-essential businesses opening their doors.
This has been done to limit the spread of the coronavirus and relieve the growing pressure on our National Health Service.
Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency.
The health and wellbeing of the nation is the only consideration that matters at this moment in our history.
These are incredibly testing times for the country. The golf industry cannot be shielded from the economic and social ramifications caused by this temporary shutdown of normal life.
We would like to assure the golfing community that England Golf staff will continue to work remotely with all affiliated golfers, clubs and counties to try and minimise the damage caused by this suspension of regular golf club life.
We will continue to signpost clubs and counties to the latest government advice and schemes designed to help the economy cope with the disruption caused by coronavirus.
You may read the full announcement by clicking on the link below
May I remove a clump of Sand from behind my golf ball?
Things have gone a little quiet on the Rules front lately, might it be the the USGA and R&A have got it right and players are understanding the Rules of Golf better, is it because not many are getting out to play golf in the poor weather conditions being experienced in many parts of the Country or are you all contemplating the introduction of the World Handicap System later in the year?
However I did receive a question during the week, and one which is quite pertinent considering the publicity surrounding one Golfing Professional.
Q: I know that I am not permitted to remove clumps of sand from the apron of the putting green when they are in my line of putt.
However, if the clump of sand is 2 – 3 inches behind my ball is there a penalty if I remove the clump of sand with my backswing (not a practice swing or using the back of the club as a brush!).
The clump of sand interfered with my normal backswing and I did not want to take an exaggerated quick lift up of the club to avoid the sand.
A: When it comes to Sand and Soil they are not regarded as being Loose Impediments unless they are lying on the Putting Green.
They cannot be disturbed or removed before making a stroke at your ball. If this happens you will be in breach of Rule 8.1a, by Improving your Lie.
You will incur a General Penalty of 2-penalty Strokes.
However, in the case of Soil, if it is compacted into a solid clump, for example a plug which has been removed during hollow-tining or an unreplaced divot, it is then regarded as a Loose Impediment and may be removed without penalty.
A recent incident on the PGA Tour highlights this:
Patrick Reed was penalised two strokes for a rules’ violation in the Hero World Challenge third round in the Bahamas in an incident that has led to a lot of criticism of the Masters Champion behaviour. Something that will stay with him for a long time to come.
Reed was penalised the strokes after twice moving sand while taking practice swings in a sandy waste area at the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club, which served to marginally improve his lie.
Reed was deemed to have improved his lie and intended line of play by “removing or pressing down sand or loose soil,” in violation of rule 8.1a
Of course there is no penalty if you move the sand or soil during the downswing and full completion of your stroke or if your Club has Preferred Lies in operation in placing your ball within 6 inches or a width of a scorecard from the original lie of your ball you may legitimately get partial, if not full, relief from the sand or soil that is impeding your stroke.
Try and enjoy your golf under these difficult weather conditions and keep smiling
May a Committee Adopt a Local Rule for Free-relief for a Lost Ball in Standing Water or Under Fallen Leaves?
With the weather conditions that many golfers are experiencing at the moment there are some playing conditions that make a round of golf not only difficult but not that enjoyable to play.
The most frustrating thing is having played a reasonable shot, knowing where your ball has landed only to then be faced with the fact that you cannot find your ball.
Because you do not consider it is your fault you feel that under the circumstances you should not be penalised but be allowed some form of relief.
I received a request along these lines to consider if a local rule could be adopted allowing free relief.
‘Do you consider that a temporary local rule should be put in place when the following situations arise: During the winter months, especially late November and December, my golf Course suffers badly from a lot of standing water and fallen leaves. Very often a player’s ball, invariably from a tee shot, becomes imbedded in soft ground and will be lost, or becomes lost under a carpet of leaves. The new three-minute rule of course does not help the searching in these situations. Very often the player feels hard done by because the lost ball is none of his making, but due to the abnormal conditions. Also, because it is winter, the walk back to where the original shot was played, is not a high priority when playing stableford. Therefore, do you consider that a temporary local rule is warranted allowing a free-drop in the area where the ball is considered lost, with of course full agreement of the other players?’
Golf is an outside sport and so subject to many and varied playing conditions especially those created by nature, which many players accept as being part of the challenge of playing different courses at different times of the year along with the frustration that the conditions bring.
A Committee does have the freedom, within reason, to adopt its own local rules so long as it does not change a Rule of Golf or reduce a penalty that would be imposed by a Rule of Golf and if thinking of adopting a Local Rule, it will have to decide on what status a golf round will have; will it be a Qualifying Round or one for General Play only?
The reason for this is because of the impact that a Local Rule can have on the status of a Round of Golf.
A Committee will also have to ensure that all players know as and when the Local Rule is in operation.
In considering the question I will divide it into two parts:
Problem with Standing-water
The problem with Fallen Leaves
When you go out to play a game of golf it is understood that you accept the central principles of the game stated in Rule 1.1 of the Rules of Golf and:
Play the course as you find it and the ball as it lies
Play by the Rules and in the Spirit of the Game
You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you do not gain any potential advantage over your fellow players or opponents
The Rule, however, does provide for exceptions where the Rules allow you to alter conditions on the course and require or allow you to play the ball from a different place from where it lies.
One such circumstance is Interference from Abnormal Course Conditions, which the R&A and USGA do not regard as part of the challenge of playing the course and free-relief may generally be allowed, except in a Penalty Area.
The Standing-water (known now as Temporary Water) is accepted as an Abnormal Course Condition and so Free-relief may be obtained from it.
An important point, especially in this case, is that you may get Free-relief for a Ball that is not found but is in the Temporary Water.
This is covered by Rule 16.1e. and the Rule applies in both Qualifying Rounds and General Play.
The only proviso is that you must ‘Know or be Virtually Certain’ that your ball came to rest in the Temporary Water; if that is the case then you may take Free Relief using an estimated point where you think your ball came to rest in the Temporary Water and use this relief instead of Stroke and Distance.
So, no real need to adopt a Local Rule for these situations.
Now these are a different problem because the R&A and USGA do not regard them as Abnormal Course Conditions, and so no Free Relief can be obtained from them in Qualifying Competitions.
Rule 18.2 provides advice on dealing with Lost Balls in these circumstances and if you have not played a provisional ball, in the expectation that your ball may be difficult to find or indeed be lost, then you have no alternative than to go back and play another ball under Stroke and Distance.
Unfortunately, you may not adopt a Local Rule to give relief from the fallen leaves, especially one that would reduce a penalty that would normally be incurred.
A Committee does not have the authority to adopt rules to fit particular needs of a course or competition and any Local Rule must be consistent with policies established din Section 8, Model Local Rules.
If a Committee authorises players to play under Local Rules that differ from the Rules of Golf, the player may not post her/his score for handicap purposes and their round will be considered to be one of General Play
However, if your game is one of general play only and you lose your ball under fallen leaves, or anything else, or is Out of Bounds, and YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED A PROVISIONAL BALL, then your Committee could adopt an Alternative Rule to the Stroke and Distance as a Local Rule, intended to help with Pace of Play.
This is covered by Committee Procedures Model Local Rule – 8E – Special or Required Relief Procedures
Purpose. When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found. The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.
The Local Rule is appropriate for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. The Local Rule is not appropriate for competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.
Where a Committee has introduced such a Local Rule for general play, and removes it for competitions, it should ensure that all players are aware of this before play begins.
A Committee may introduce such a Local Rule for all play on the course or only for one or two specific holes where it may be especially useful (for example, where players are unable to see the landing area and therefore may not know whether or not to play a provisional ball).
This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole.
The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option. This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.
This Local Rule cannot be used for an unplayable ball, or for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area.
If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found.
Model Local Rule E-5
“When a player’s ball has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance.
For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
Two Estimated Reference Points:
(a). Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball is estimated to have:
Come to rest on the course, or
Last crossed the edge of the courseboundary to go out of bounds.
(b). Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point.
For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.
If a ball is estimated to be lost on the course or last crossed the edge of the course boundary short of the fairway, the fairway reference point may be a grass path or a teeing ground for the hole being played cut to fairway height or less.
Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between:
A line from the holethrough the ball reference point (and within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
A line from the holethrough the fairway reference point (and within two club-lengths to the fairway side of that line).
But with these limits:
Limits on Location of Relief Area:
Must be in the general area, and
Must not be nearer the holethan the ball reference point.
Once the player puts a ball in play under this Local Rule:
The original ball that was lostor out of bounds is no longer in play and must not be played.
This is true even if the ball is found on the coursebefore the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
But the player may not use this option to take relief for the original ball when:
That ball is known or virtually certainto have come to rest in a penalty area, or
The player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance(see Rule 18.3).
A player may use this option to take relief for a provisional ball that has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”
MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 1: BALL NOT FOUND
MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 2: BALL OUT OF BOUNDS
MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 3: BALL NOT FOUND OR OUT OF BOUNDS CLOSE TO GREEN
As a personal comment, but something my Golf Club has done recently, if the problem is a perpetual problem, then the Club should try to address the problem of the Standing Water by improving drainage in the affected areas and with fallen leaves clear them on a regular basis, even by just using a leaf-blower or more sophisticated Leaf Collection Equipment.
Committees and Clubs should be mindful of creating courses where players can enjoy a reasonable round of golf under all conditions.
Still, enjoy your golf
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