England Golf – COVID-19 Update 28 January 2021

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf is fighting our corner and continues to make a case for Golf being a safe form of exercise and to resume as soon as possible, outlining the rationale behind their arguments.

The report states that golf has the same health benefits as walking, cycling, and running and, with the uncrowded nature of golf courses and strict protocols provided, risk of transmission during golf is lower than these other health enhancing physical activities.

If scientific evidence is to be applied logically and consistently, golf should be permitted to return during the current phase of national lockdown (which commenced on 4 January 2021).

The report also puts forward practices and procedures for the safe management of golfing facilities during COVID-19 restrictions which have been been enhanced to reflect the new variant and national lockdown.

During National Lockdown, or Tiers higher than 4:

  • Persons from one household should be permitted to play together.
  • Two adults from different households may play, while children under 12 from these households should be permitted.
  • 2 metres + (aiming for 3 metres) should be adhered to for members of different households.
  • 4 markings should be placed adjacent to the tees 3 metres apart, highlighting appropriate social distancing • Travel to venue must be local (in keeping with wider guidance re exercise)

The report also sets out operational guidance for golf facility owners, professional and administrative staffs engaged in the management of golf courses, clubs and driving ranges when COVID-19 restrictions are in force in the Nations and Regions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

It emphasises the point that it is essential that golfing facilities operate safely, meeting the sporting, physical activity and mental wellbeing needs of patrons, while abiding, at all times, by prevailing government public health restrictions.

In response to this, England Golf released the following COVID-19 Update yesterday

‘In response to the latest national lockdown and the government making clear it intends to maintain its “science first” approach in their decision-making process, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has updated its “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom” paper.

This now includes greater evidence and rationale from leading experts to again make the case for the sport to make an early return.

The updated document, titled “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom 2021“, has been informed independently by epidemiologist and Principal Advisor on Physical Activity for Health to the four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers, Professor Charlie Foster and Chief Medical Officer to the European Tour, Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Andrew Murray.

Letters have been sent to the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales enclosing copies.

The paper showcases the steps taken by those in the golf industry to ensure players’ and staff safety by meeting the various COVID protocols, as well as the commitment to continue this and be able to recognise and adapt to the changing circumstances linked to the virus.

It goes on to cite academic and scientific research that clearly demonstrate the link between physical activity and physical and mental wellbeing, including supporting the immune system and helping fight disease.

Professor Charlie Foster commented on the paper: “As the paper shows, golf can be played safely, and it should have a central role in the government’s thinking when it comes to helping people exercise now and as we come out of pandemic restrictions.

“I have therefore recommended that an expert in physical activity join the SAGE advisory group to ensure there is consistency across the sciences represented within it, and to provide advice on allowing physical activity to return as restrictions are reduced.”

Dr Andrew Murray added: “Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health adding years to life, and having many mental and physical health benefits, be that through – for example – walking, cycling, running or golf.

“Golf’s careful planning and compliance with COVID-19 tiers and regulation means its level of transmission from playing is likely to be extremely low, much lower than indoor space, or more populated outdoor areas.

“This is supported by the various scientific research the paper cites and I encourage those in SAGE and in government to review those as I am sure they will conclude that golf is similar to walking, running and cycling in being beneficial, and is safe to play with the relevant protocols in place.”

The Group’s Chair, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey said: “It is entirely understandable for government to utilise scientific advice available when creating its strategy, but it is equally important for that scientific evidence to be applied evenly.

“With the help of Professor Foster and Dr Murray, this paper provides that scientific evidence and demonstrates that golf can be played safely with the various enhanced protocols appropriate for the new variants.

“I am grateful to them and all the bodies in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf for their hard work on preparing this thorough paper.

“Again we have been clearly able to make the case that golf is ready, willing and able to return safely at the earliest possible opportunity.”

So keep your fingers crossed and an eye on the press.

Stay safe and well

Tony

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf

This post may be a little academic at this time of a Third Lockdown and Golf Courss being closed in England, Wales and Ireland (Scotland remaining open), but I have received a number of emails over the last few weeks concerning the WHS and Winter Handicaps, Winter Tees, Winter Courses and Winter Rules.

The most common problem has been where Clubs have not rated their Winter Tees, because of their temporary nature,  but wish to run competitions on these courses.

Added to this is is the fact that Club Handicap Software will not offer the option for winter handicaps under the  WHS.

It is the intention of the national federations that there is a 12-month handicapping season.  WHS allows for the return of scores less than 18 holes, when a club designates some unplayable, for example due to wet conditions or lack of light.  Handicap Software Systems  have  guidelines allowing for shortened holes and winter tees.  PCC (the new equivalent to CSS) is designed to account for daily playing conditions and handicaps are calculated against this, not the course rating (the new equivalent to SSS) or par.

Your Club will still be able organise non-qualifying competitions and process these through your Handicap Software for publication.

The World Handicap System states that acceptable scores for handicap purposes should be posted throughout the year.

However, this is not really feasible when winter courses are in play, especially courses which are not sand-based; the advice is that when course conditions are poor then it is not reasonable to be submitting qualifying (Acceptable) scores.

Regardless of the season, acceptable scores can only be submitted on a rated course (which would include a temporary rating where necessary).

If a Club does not have such a course, for whatever reason  and a common one now is that Winter Tees have not been rated, then clearly such scores cannot be submitted.

Appendix G of the Rules of Handicapping is solely for when there are temporary adjustments to a course for reasons such as emergency maintenance on a tee etc. and does not include a winter course.

So, if a club wants to offer Acceptable Scores during the winter period when winter tees are in use, then the course being played needs to have a rating, whether that is a full rating or a temporary rating.

A Club must apply for this rating and it is up to the appropriate County to provide this service (albeit at their convenience – they are all volunteers!).

Whilst the aim is to allow submission of Acceptable Scores all year, a level of realism is required on courses that are clearly sub-standard due to weather conditions (as they would have been in previous years).

This situation may not just be for winter, it would not be unreasonable, even in the Summer playing season, that a club could prevent the return of Acceptable scores (competition and social/General Play) if the course is not in a good condition – examples of this could be when the greens have been hollow-tined or heavily top dressed.

Until a Course Rating has been issued a Club may only run Non-acceptable Competitions.

To sum up:

Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions and want scores to be acceptable for Handicap Purposes:

  • Competitions must be run over 9 or 18 Holes.
  • Rounds must be played in accordance with Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping Page 26.
  • Preferred lies are allowable under the guidance below.
  • Scaling up is allowed in accordance with Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 36/37).

If a Club cannot run Competitions that are acceptable for Handicap Purposes, it can still run Non-acceptable Competitions that can be set up using Club Software or Manually to record Scores and Winners.

The following procedure is quite permissible, and several Clubs are following similar ones.

Non-Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions where scores are not acceptable for Handicap Purposes, but where results can be processed, a neutral slope of 113 and a Course rating equal to the Par of the holes being played can be used.

This will mean a Chart to generate the Course Handicap is not required (i.e., your Course Handicap is your rounded Handicap Index).  The scores cannot be Acceptable for handicap purposes, but it does allow non-qualifying competitions to be run during this period (lockdown notwithstanding).

    • If your Club uses Software to run the competition you can follow the guidelines within the software to cater for unrated courses.
    • If your Club runs its competitions manually, you can use the Handicap Index as the basis for the calculation of a Course Handicap and/or Playing Handicap which should then be adjusted relative to the number of holes being played.

Guidance on the Preferred Lies Period

Preferred Lies – Model Local Rules E-2 and E-3.

In England, Wales and Scotland the Preferred Lies Period runs from 1st October to 30th April while in Ireland, the Preferred Lies period is from November 1st to April 30th.

Clubs can run competitions where scores are acceptable for handicapping purposes during this period when both Model Local Rule E-2 and E-3 are in force.

It is recommended that a Local Rule permitting preferred lies in the general area outside of the preferred lies period should be used only in extreme circumstances where scores will not be accepted for handicapping purpose (WHS Guidance document Appendix H).

The purpose of preferred lies as described in Model Local Rule E-3 is to protect areas of the course cut to fairway height or less.  This Model Local Rule allows players to lift, clean and place the ball within six inches in the General Area cut to fairway height.  It is recommended that the ball should be marked before lifting.  The ball must be placed in the relief area within six inches of the reference point.

However, it is not recommended that this Rule is routinely adopted for the General Area as a whole because it could give a player an unfair advantage by offering her/him free relief from an unplayable lie, e.g., a ball located behind a tree or under a bush.

There is another Model Local Rule, E-2, that may be adopted which allows balls to be cleaned in the General Area when conditions such as wet ground throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball.

The purpose of Model Local Rule E-2 is to allow players to clean the ball in the general area (which would include the Rough) when conditions throughout parts of the course cause mud to stick to the ball.  This allows the ball to be cleaned and replaced and should be limited to those parts of the course where needed, not to the whole course. The ball must be marked before lifting and cleaning and must be replaced on its original spot before playing.

During the Preferred Lie period scores may not be returned for handicapping purposes if any of the following local rules or restrictions apply: –

    1. Preferred lies in the general area or where the relief area exceeds 6 inches.
    2. The ball is lifted from the fairway and placed or dropped in the semi-rough
    3. The competition is over less than 18 holes but is not a 9 hole competition
    4. If the competition is played using winter tees or greens and a temporary modification to the course and slope ratings has not been approved by the area authority
    5. Where the use of fairway mats does not follow the rules provided in the WHS Guidance document Appendix H GH/2.

I hope this offers some help and guidance for those of you trying to work through the Winter Period and organise competitive Golf Competitions

You can download a copy of this advice by clicking on the link below:

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf (my-golf.uk)

Stay safe and well

Best wishes

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Blog: www.my-golf.uk

England Golf – Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 Locations

England Golf – Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 locations

 

For those of you who are unfortunate to be in Tier 4, England Golf have updated their recommendations for Golf Courses located in Tier 4 following the UK Government’s recent announcements on Wednesday 22 December.

If you click on the Button below, or the link, you can learn more:

Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 Locations

Whatever you do, please Stay Safe and Play Safe

 

 

World Handicap System MIxed-Tee Handicap Calculator and Coronavirus Updates

WHS MIxed-Tee Handicap Calculator

Well Christmas is nearly upon us and the end, I hope, of an extraordinary year.

What had all the promise of an exciting golfing year with the launch of the

World Handicap System proved to be exciting in a way we did not expect.

I feel sorry, not just for the disruption to everyone’s golf but to the year that many Captains of all sections had planned and were looking forward too.

But what I have seen is that many adapted to the unprecedented circumstances and became quite enterprising in adapting their golfing calendar and competitions.

AGMs and Captains’ Drive-ins also had to be adapted, but I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone of you have taken on a position within your club this year and wish you every success for 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 Restrictions it is good to see many of you able to play golf and organise or participate in competitions.

The drive to introduce Gender Neutral Tees and also to encourage more mixed competitions, has , from the number of emails I have received,  been taken up worldwide and actually includes many Clubs in England.

This has led to more Mixed-tee Competitions being organised.

However, with the complex nature of calculating Mixed-tee Playing Handicaps under the World Handicap System, many have struggled with the new Handicap Calculations.

CONGU have come to the rescue and produced a WHS Mixed-Tee Handicap Calculator, set out in a Microsoft Office Excel Spreadsheet for everyone to use it covers:

    1. 18 Holes – 2 Tees
    2. 18 Holes – 3 Tees
    3. 9 Holes -2 Tees
    4. Foursomes and Greensomes
    5. Scrambles
    6. Team Competitions, including Best of 4 and Best f 3

To read more about the WHS Mixed-tee calculator, how to use it and Download your own copy click on the link below:

World Handicap System Mixed-Tee Calculator

Enjoy your golf

Stay Safe

Tony

PS  England Golf have updated their recommendations on Play Safe for those of you who, unfortunately, find yourselves in Tier 4.  Follow the link below:

England Golf FAQs and Play Safe Framework

CONGU Unified Handicapping System – RIP

CONGU Unified Handicapping System – RIP

Getting to grips with the World Handicap System is presenting some of you with problems.

But now that England Golf and Independent Software Vendors are managing to overcome some of the teething problems it is evident, from the many emails I am receiving, that many of you, who can play golf at the moment, are doing so and entering and organising a number of competitions.

In1983 the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) introduced the Unified Handicapping System) UHS) to GB&I for the first time.

It was based on the Australian Handicapping System and has stood us in good stead since then.

But on 2nd November 2020, the World Handicap System (WHS) was introduced bringing together and regularising six different Handicap Systems.

So, what does this mean for us and organisers of competitions?

Firstly, a steep learning curve because there are many changes to get used to and implement.

Secondly, the CONGU UHS Manual no longer applies as a source of reference and we must turn to new publications for information on Handicapping.

The sources we must now use and rely on are:

  1. England Golf Rules of Handicapping
  2. CONGU – Guidance on Rules of Handicapping as Applied to GB&I and
  3. Guide for Committees on the effect of 2019 Rules of Golf on CONGU Handicapping

Unfortunately, the Guidance on Rules of Handicapping as Applied to GB&I, is not as clear and precise as the old CONGU UHS Manual, and no doubt will be re-written over time, but it is all we have at the moment.

But love it or hate it, the WHS is here to stay and once understood and used properly will, in my opinion, provide a much fairer Handicapping System for all.

Keep safe

Tony

Coronavirus FAQs on the Return of Golf on 3 December 2020

Correction to post:  Coronavirus FAQs on the return of golf on 3 December 2020

Please accept my apologies but there seems to have been some confusion, especially on social media, as to actually when golf could resume in England., December 2nd or 3rd, which not only confused me but England Golf as well.

Addressing this confusion,  Craig Tracey, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, confirmed Golf Clubs  could open on the Wednesday, 2nd December Wednesday.

‘For the avoidance of doubt, new rules come in to effect from 00:01 on 2nd December, so shops, beauty salons, and indeed golf courses, can open on that Wednesday’

Again many apologies to you all.

Tony

Coronavirus – The Return of Golf on 2 December 2020

Coronavirus FAQs on the Return of Golf on 2 December 2020

Following the good news from the UK Government that we can exit the second Lockdown on 2 December and Golf in England can return from 3 December, we are all going to have to get used to a new level of tier restrictions that may be in place until spring.

A question that a lot of us are asking is “Can I play golf in another Tier?”

Some of you may already be used to the tier concept, but the measures announced by the Government, and which will come into force on December 2, are said to be much tougher than those that preceded them.

The Covid tiers will still determine what applies to you and your club in England and they are still labelled Tier 1: Medium Alert, Tier 2: High Alert and Tier 3: Very High Alert.

So, in which tier is your golf club and how will this affect you?

England Golf have updated their Coronavirus FAQs to answer this for you.

The most pertinent recommendation are:

  1. That if you are in a very high alert area (Tier 3) you should avoid travelling outside your locality.
  2. Travelling into a very high alert area for the purposes of golf should be avoided.
  3. Golfers should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if resident in a very high alert level area or avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area if resident elsewhere, and
  4. To find out which tier your golf club is in, please check the government’s postcode tracker

To Download a copy of the England Golf Coronavirus FAQs  click here.

England Golf have also produced two other useful documents:

  1. England Golf Tier to Tier Infographics and
  2. Framework for Playing Safe Updated 27 November 2020

You can download copies of both documents by clicking on the download buttons below:

 

So, enjoy your golf, but remember

Play Safe and Stay Safe

Tony

“Golf is back” – English Golfers Welcome the Game’s Return from Wednesday 2 December 2020

23 NOVEMBER 2020

“Golf is back” – APPGG welcomes the game’s return from Wednesday 2 December 2020

Industry members in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf have welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement today (23 November 2020) that golf clubs and other facilities in England may reopen from 2 December.

The announcement paves the way for golf to return at all COVID-19 alert levels within the Rule of Six, permitting fourball play without restriction on number of households.

Coaching, fitting and ranges will also be allowed to open, as will indoor hospitality facilities in tiers one and two (those in tier three can continue a takeaway service only).

Details are being reviewed by industry bodies and clubs and facilities are encouraged to review the England Golf website for national details, as well as the websites of their industry bodies.

Speaking after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf’s Chairman, North Warwickshire MP, Craig Tracey said: “I am sure all involved in golf in England welcome the sport’s return and the industry has yet again pulled together to form a coherent message to Government articulating why it was safe to do so.

“As was seen both before and during this lockdown, golf is a sport that can be played safely and the industry adapted quickly to manage the restrictions imposed previously.

“Golf now has operational experience and established COVID secure practices, including rule changes and other mitigation measures that meet the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ directive.

“It is therefore ideally placed to welcome people back when lockdown ends in all the home nations.

“The health and wellbeing benefits of playing golf are well documented in scientific literature and leaders in public health, public policy and sport from across the globe recognise that golf tackles physical inactivity and contributes to the prevention of a range of non-communicable diseases.

“Combining the undeniable benefits that golf offers to a significant proportion of the country, and the steps taken that ensure golf is a sport that can be played safely, the golf industry looks forward to welcoming players back and is confident it can meet future restrictions.”

Great news, but use your common sense and Play Safely.

Enjoy your golf

Tony

Will Golf Courses in England Re-Open After 2nd December 2020? – Launch of My England Golf App

Will Golf Courses in England Re-Open After 2 December 2020?

Now we all hope that courses will re-open on 3rd December, or as soon as possible after that and give us some respite from Lockdown-2 in England.

There may be some light on the horizon, if common sense prevails and it does not put lives at risk.

A forthcoming debate by the UK Government may offer us some sort of promise, but we should know more by Monday evening.

England Golf has confirmed that the UK government will debate the petition that was delivered to it ‘Exempt golf courses from the list of venues required to close due to Covid-19’, which attracted over 250,000 signatures, on Monday 23 November.

As you know, Golf courses in England have been closed since Thursday 5th November, when we started a four-week national lockdown.

That was despite arguments being put forward by England Golf, members of the golfing industry and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf.

England Golf has said that it wholeheartedly supports the views of the petition, details of which you can read by clicking here, that golf courses should be allowed to remain open through this current lockdown, enabling golfers of all ages to continue playing golf and to exercise safely.

England Golf, however, has also acknowledged that there is no guarantee of courses re-opening on 3rd December,

Jeremy Tomlinson, England Golf CEO, said, “We know the benefits our sport can provide for both mental and physical health at this time of isolation and hope the government can recognise this during the upcoming debate and support golf’s return to playing,”.

“Earlier this year, the game of golf was able to clearly demonstrate that it could be enjoyed in a COVID-safe way, which is why it was one of the first sports to return once restrictions were lifted.

“This was a privilege that the sport took incredibly seriously and accordingly adopted the highest possible standards to keep participants safe.

“Our sport has come together in one voice during this difficult year and it’s thanks to the support of our members, clubs and counties, as well as our collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf.”

Don’t get too despondent if the decision is not the one we would want

On a lighter note,

England Golf have Released a MyEG Mobile App.

My England Golf (MyEG) will allow golfers to stay up to date with their Handicap Index as part of the World Handicap System (WHS).

The app, available now to download for free in Apple and Google Play stores, follows on from the official transition on 2 November to the new WHS for the 1,800 golf clubs and 630,000 golfers across England.

England Golf has created the app to provide golfers with the ability to access their Handicap Index on the go, as well as to easily keep track of their overall playing record on a regular basis.

A Course Handicap calculator is another unique feature of the new My England Golf app.

This function will allow golfers to cross-reference their Handicap Index with whichever set of tees they will be playing from on a particular day, for any course in the country, in order to work out their Course Handicap.

You can read more about MyEG App and how to download it by clicking on the MyEG App link below:

MyEG App Header

Take me to MyEG App

 

As ever

Stay safe and well

Tony

Addendum to Last Post on Whether to Record Gross Score against Course or Player Handicap

Addendum to Last Post on Recording Gross Score against Course or Player Handicap

A reader commented on my mention of Stableford and Maximum Score formats relating to England Golf and not other jurisdictions.

I must thank him for bringing it to my attention and hope I have not caused any confusion for anyone.

The reason I mentioned that my comments related to England is that, although I do try and advise on all jurisdictions (worldwide) I do concentrate on England and have to remember that some of my readers are from other countries and I could easily confuse them if I don’t qualify some of my points.

Although the WHS is supposed to be worldwide, not all of its features have been adopted by some Countries.

My comments therefore on Stableford and Maximum Score formats do also apply to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, it is Ireland’s intention to trial the inclusion of some match play events into handicapping and to also include some Four Ball Better-Ball scores in situations where the returned scores are better than a target expectation for this format of play.

Where scores returned in match play or four-ball formats are Acceptable Scores there is a need for calculating a ‘Most Likely Score’ when a player starts a hole but does not hole out.

So in Ireland, when using a ‘Most Likely Score’ a player must still bear in mind the score that would be recorded compared to a Net Double Bogey against their Course Handicap.,

NOTE: This will not be in use for the rest of GB&I, although it is part of the WHS and in use in the rest of the world.

Something, no doubt, England Golf will review that situation in the future.

Golf Ireland will issue details of the inclusion of match play and 4BBB in due course, but at the moment these formats are not acceptable in England or Scotland.

Hope this clears things up.

Sorry, however, if I did manage to confuse you.

Tony