5 March 2021 2
Updated 5 March - Relevant as of Monday 29 March 2021
This framework forms a part of our ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ support and
guidance for golfers, clubs and counties. All frameworks can be accessed through
our website – click here
Any guidance may be re-issued as government measures to combat COVID-19
are updated in the future. Please refer to the government website for the most
up-to-date guidance and laws on COVID-19 related social restrictions:
England Golf has been working closely with partners from across the sport,
including The R&A, fellow home nations, PGA and other industry associations to
draw together a framework under which golf may be safely enjoyed.
There are many different types of golf clubs and golf facilities each requiring safe
procedures to be finalised and implemented locally. However, the fundamentals
are the same throughout the sport, which has a good record of compliance with
rules and procedures.
These procedures include all aspects of the golfing experience. The over-riding
consideration throughout must be to ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’.
While each club/facility will need to adapt its procedures to ensure compliance
with government restrictions, the following aspects of the golfer experience,
divided into the five following categories, will need to be considered:
1. Course set-up, including information on course furniture (such as flags
and rakes) and practice areas
2. Before the round, relating to tee-time booking processes, arrival and
waiting to play
3. During the round, in particular golfer behaviour and social distancing in
different areas of the course
4. After the round, detailing what golfers can and/or must do following the
conclusion of their round
5. Competitions and Rules of Golf, including the registration process,
scoring and formats of play
Clubs/facilities should adhere to the guidelines provided. These have
been published to assist clubs/facilities in providing as safe an
environment as they can. Failure to follow this guidance may leave
clubs/facilities open to enforcement action from local authorities
and/or police, or subject to disciplinary procedures from England Golf.5 March 2021 3
1. Course Set-up
On-Course Items
• 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
• Ball washers and drinking fountains to be covered up
• Open-top bins may be used on course, provided 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. Stakes defining areas of the
course can be treated as immovable obstructions
Hole and Flagstick
• Flagsticks can be retained, but it is strongly recommended that a sign is
put on the flagstick stating that it is not to be touched
• A method of inserting the hole liner to be used that means all of the ball
does not fall below the surface of the putting green and can be easily
retrieved by handling the ball only. Ball-lifting mechanisms may also be
Practice Areas and Lessons
• Practice areas, including driving ranges and practice nets, may be
opened if safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed
• Indoor practice facilities must remain closed
• Lessons, including group lessons, may take place providing government
guidelines are followed and appropriate sanitisation is guaranteed. There
is no limit to the number of participants that can take part in outdoor
coaching sessions as this falls into the government’s “organised sport
participation event” category. Full guidance:
2. Before the Round
• Four-ball groups are permitted on-course with no restriction on the
mixing of households. Overall group sizes must not exceed six, including
any caddies or chaperones, unless the group is made up of two
households or fewer5 March 2021 4
• Clubs/facilities to organise a system of booking and allocation of tee
times that ensures the safety of staff and golfers and lessen the chance
of people congregating
• A 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
Arrival and Waiting to Play
• Clubhouses must remain closed
• Pro shops must remain closed, unless acting as a reception point. If that
is the case, safety measures such as plastic screens, removing any
touchpoints and contactless payment must be considered
• It is illegal for gatherings of more than six people to take place either
indoor or outdoor, except for limited exceptions
• Clubs/facilities have a legal obligation to collect details of all members
and visitors entering the clubhouse for track and trace. These details
must be stored, in compliance with GDPR, for 21 days
• Clubs/ facilities must also display an official NHS QR Code poster so that
visitors can ‘check-in’ as an alternative to providing their contact details.
Click here for more detail and to create a QR Code
• Players should still arrive changed for play and refrain from showering or
changing in locker rooms. Golf shoes should be changed in the car park
• Toilets and wash-hand basins in locker rooms may remain in use
• Face coverings must be worn by staff, golfers and visitors in all public
indoor areas of the club/facility, such as an indoor reception area (if
applicable), and toilets. There are some exemptions to wearing face
coverings including children under the age of 11 and those with certain
disabilities. Clubs should refer to government guidance to ensure
• Clubs/facilities to communicate in advance with golfers to advise on
social distancing requirements that are being applied on arrival at the
• Clubs/facilities to have procedures in place to ensure social distancing
requirements in the area of the reception area (if applicable) or starter’s
building in advance of golfers teeing off
• Hiring of equipment is a decision for club/facility managers. Where
they are hired, individuals can use trollies. These should not be
shared. Two members of the same household may share buggies, but
otherwise they should be used by individuals only. Facilities should
follow sensible precautions and clean equipment after every use
• 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 off5 March 2021 5
• Takeaway food and drink may be served to those waiting to tee off, but
all outdoor tables, chairs and benches should be removed to avoid
3. During the Round
Guidance and reminders should be provided by clubs/facilities to golfers to
ensure that they maintain appropriate social distancing during the round.
Teeing Areas
• Remind golfers to maintain appropriate social distancing at teeing areas
due to the normal close proximity of golfers to one another when tee
shots are being played
• Remind golfers to maintain appropriate social distancing when walking to
the ball, searching for a ball and playing shots
• Remind golfers not to touch stray balls
• With no communal rakes allowed on the course, remind golfers to make
their very best efforts to smooth the sand using their club and/or their
Putting Green
• Remind golfers to maintain appropriate social distancing on the putting
greens and not to touch the flagstick
• Caddies may be used, provided group sizes do not exceed those specified
by government (“rule of six” or two households)
• 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
• Competition organising committees should consider whether to permit
caddies during competition play
4. After the Round
• Unless using a practice facility or ordering food and drink to take away
and consume elsewhere, players should leave the site at the conclusion
of their round so as to prevent congregations5 March 2021 6
5. Competitions and Rules of Golf
Clubs may choose to run competitions provided all social distancing and safety
rules are strictly observed. Gatherings of people must be avoided at all times,
including for registration or for presentations.
It is the responsibility of the host club to ensure that all relevant guidelines are
followed and that a safe environment is provided for all players. Failure to do so
may leave the club liable for enforcement action.
Registration Process
• Where open competitions take place, organising committees must put in
place a registration process to capture full contact details of all players in
case of the need to track and trace following a confirmed case of COVID19
Shotgun starts
• We do not recommend the use of shotgun starts at this time because of
the increased likelihood of creating congregations of people before and
after the round
Foursomes and Greensomes formats
• Each partner should use their own golf ball, which is only handled by
that player. For example, the player teeing off from hole 1 is the only
player that touches the ball from teeing off through to completion of the
hole. The partner teeing off from hole 2 does likewise with their ball.
Under the Rules of Golf, a partner is permitted to drop the side’s ball in
taking relief. It is also permissible to drop another ball when taking
• When marking and replacing the ball on the putting green this should
be conducted by the partner the ball belongs to. Under this situation (or
any other where the ball must be replaced) the original ball must be
used and must not be substituted by another ball
Handicapping Provisions
To enable some of the changes to the way the game is played, CONGU (GB&I
Handicap Authority) has issued some temporary adjustments to the playing of
scores for handicap purposes, which may differ from the temporary changes to
the Rules of Golf. Some of these are outlined below.
Note: Consult the relevant handicapping authority on whether scores using
any of the provisions below are acceptable for handicapping purposes - click
here to access CONGU guidance5 March 2021 7
Forms of Play and Scoring
• If competitive stroke play is played, a method of scoring needs to be
used that does not require any exchanging of scorecards
• Committees may choose to allow methods of scoring in stroke play that
do not strictly comply with Rule 3.3b, or do not comply with the normal
methods used under Rule 3.3b. For example
• Players may enter their own hole scores on the scorecard (it is
not necessary for a marker to do it)
• It is not necessary to have a marker physically certify the
player’s hole scores, but some form of verbal certification
should take place
• It is not necessary to physically return a scorecard to the
committee provided the committee can accept the scores in
another way
• Player Score Input (PSI) screens should not be used
• As provided in the Rules of Golf, scorecards can be electronic, which
could include emailing or texting scores to the committee.
• Further guidance on this has now been provided by CONGU – click here
to access the guidance
• 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
• As a temporary provision, flagsticks can be used for the purpose of player
safety which do not meet the specifications in part 8 of the equipment
• Allow players to 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
Hole and Holed
• The hole liner (sometimes referred to as the hole ‘cup’) may 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