Golf Update

EASTERN SWARD MEMBERS

As you are aware, COVID-19 or the Coronavirus as it is more commonly known has created global health concerns regarding the disease and its infection rates.

Golf Australia is writing to provide further assistance and guidance to our clubs and facilities on this important topic.

Please note, all information communicated by Golf Australia to date will be located on our website at https://www.golf.org.au/covid-19/.  Our communications moving forward will contain only new information and updates.

It is Golf Australia’s recommendation to clubs and facilities that advice from the Australian Government’s Department of Health should be monitored closely over the coming days and weeks, as well as the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website.  Advice may change from day to day.

Please note, Golf Australia remains fully operational for all of your clubs and facilities support, rules and handicapping and competition management requirements. For contact details of each departmental area, please visit https://www.golf.org.au/contactus/
The R&A – Temporary Modifications to the Rules of Golf – EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
The R&A has announced overnight a series of temporary measures that will enable clubs to remove any hygiene implications related to complying with the Rules of Golf. These temporary measures are effective immediately and allow the Rules of Golf, and Model Local Rules, to be modified as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Various examples are described below.
In response to the R&A’s announcement, the Chairman of Golf Australia, Andrew Newbold, said: “The game of golf can offer a level of social engagement which will become increasingly important for many Australians. We want to do what we can to enable people to be provided with a recreational outlet, especially as concerns around mental and physical health will become more prominent. Golf Australia encourages every club to take advantage of this temporary flexibility that has been announced by the R&A, and to consider options which will ensure the Rules are not acting as a barrier to people getting out and enjoying the game.”

When considering these new options, clubs should be mindful of the following:
In order to take advantage of these new Local Rule options, your club will need to announce which options it is bringing into effect for play at your facility – these options do not automatically come into effect at your facility as a result of the R&A announcement.
Scores returned from competitions with any of the new Local Rules in effect must be processed through GOLF Link unless your club has been instructed otherwise by Golf Australia or your State Association.
These Local Rule options are temporary and are related to Covid-19 concerns. They will be available to clubs until Golf Australia advises otherwise.
Please email us at rules&handicapping@golf.org.au if you have a query about any of the below Local Rule options, or if there are any other Local Rules you believe should be introduced at your club to manage concerns around Covid-19.
NEW LOCAL RULES

Scoring in Stroke Play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score

In view of concerns about handling and exchanging scorecards, on a temporary basis, the Committee has chosen to allow methods of scoring in stroke play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score 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.

Flagsticks

The Committee has chosen to adopt the following policies:
Requiring players to leave the flagstick in the hole at all times. The Committee has decided to establish this policy by Local Rule.

Bunkers

If rakes have been removed from the course, or if the Committee has requested that rakes not be used, it is recognised that bunkers may not be smoothed as effectively as when rakes are on the course. But it is recommended that no modification be made to the Rules of Golf in such circumstances, and that players be requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club. However, if this guidance to your members does not prove to be effective, the Committee has chosen to introduce the following Local Rule:
Allow preferred lies in bunkers.

Member, Guest and Staff health advice

Golf clubs and facilities are often heavily trafficked, and there is a chance that a member, guest or member of your staff will be exposed to, or test positive to, COVID-19.

It is vitally important that if a member, guest or staff member tests positive to COVID-19, they must inform the club/facility as soon as possible. If this has occurred, anyone testing positive will be contacted by the State/Territory Department of Health in relation to contact tracing. You should then take advice on ongoing facility operations from your State/Territory Department of Health.

Playing Golf:

It should be noted that the vast majority of golfers can and should continue to visit your clubs and facilities as per normal. Of course, golfers should exhibit a heightened awareness of personal hygiene as has been encouraged by state and federal health departments. By its nature, golf promotes a level of social distancing and while it is important that this is adhered to, golf is a lower risk sport than many others.

Clubhouse & Golf Operations:

On Friday, March 20 the Australian Government announced a tightening of restrictions on its non-essential indoor gathering ban announced on Wednesday, March 18.

This tightening includes new restrictions to businesses of one person per four square metres of space. This will continue to be defined per single enclosed area of a venue. For example, you can have one person per four square metres in a function room including staff, while also having one person per four square metres in the bar. In a room of 100 square metres, you will be allowed to have 25 people, including staff, present in the room.

Golf Australia – staff update:

All Golf Australia staff will work from home until Tuesday, March 31. If there is any change in these dates, we will advise all clubs and facilities closer to that date.

We will still be contactable via regular means such as phone and e-mail, and our reception phone will be diverted to ensure all incoming calls are answered.

As previously noted, the virus and potential implications are changing constantly and we will continue to monitor accordingly, and provide updates to clubs and facilities as regularly as required, or alternatively when additional Federal Government updates are announced.

For further information from the Federal Government on COVID-19, the Coronavirus Health Information Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 020 080.

If you require additional information or have questions please do not hesitate to contact Golf Australia on (03) 9626 5000 or clubsupport@golf.org.au.

Kind regards,

Golf Australia