Golf Australia has updated its position on whether golf can be played in Australia during the COVID-19 epidemic.
In a statement published on their website today, Golf Australia is recommending that golf can be played in Australia during the coronavirus epidemic “under strict and specific safety protocols – enforced by state and territory guidelines as well as individual club rules.”
It will be interesting to see now if Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, himself an avid golfer will relax the rules around playing golf. Current state government regulations in Victoria prohibits golf from being played mind the global COVID-19 pandemic aimed to keep people at home to avoid greater viral transmission.
In lieu of any specific federal government directives, Golf Australia, along with many other organisations around Australia has found itself in the difficult position of coming up with their own set of recommendations.
The strongest federal recommendation to “stay home” was most likely the reason for their initial strong stance, which should be applauded.
Let’s hope all golfers can maintain the social distancing measures without being infected or transmitting the COVID-19 virus on their way to and from the golf course.
Golf Australia’s focus during the COVID-19 pandemic will always be the wellbeing of the broader community.
Combined with our enduring responsibility for our clubs, their staff and all Australian golfers, we remain comfortable that our position recommending that clubs close has been appropriate to this point.
But, acknowledging the long challenge that lies ahead of all Australians during this pandemic, we have been encouraged to see golf played in comparative safety in five states and one territory in recent weeks as we all adopt social distancing necessities.
Under strict and specific safety protocols – enforced by state and territory guidelines as well as individual club rules – Golf Australia is now satisfied that golf can be played at minimal risk. Having worked collaboratively with our clubs and other stakeholders, we are now comfortable to alter our position and encourage courses to open and for people to play.
As well as social distancing, these safety protocols include keeping gloves on and not touching hands with playing partners, not sharing carts, leaving flags in, reducing hole depth, greater times between groups, not exchanging cards, not using bunker rakes and maintaining personal hygiene.
The ability to play currently does not apply to those in Victoria and the Northern Territory where golf remains prohibited by those State and Territory governments. As ever, Golf Australia will continue constructive dialogue and advocacy for golfers with these governments.
It is important to note that Golf Australia may again alter our position depending on the changing requirements of governments (Federal, state and territory) as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.