Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February, offering light at the end of the tunnel for amateur golfers across England hoping to get back onto courses and driving ranges.
Prior to the roadmap announcement, England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson had called on ministers to allow the sport’s facilities to open again in the first relaxing of Covid restrictions.
Mr Tomlinson pointed to the “mental and physical health benefits” playing golf has for more than two million people across the country in an open letter published on the England Golf website.
So when will golf courses open according to the roadmap?
Why are golf courses closed?
Golf courses and driving ranges were closed when England entered a third national lockdown on Monday 4 January 2021, in the government’s response to the Covid pandemic.
At the time, coronavirus was spreading rapidly through the community which could be seen in high infection rates, hospital admissions and sadly the number of deaths recorded.
A statement on the England Golf website confirmed: “The UK Government has instructed all golf courses and facilities to close with immediate effect from 4 January 2021.
“This is in response to the rapid rise in transmission rates of the Covid-19 outbreak and as a result of England being placed in alert level 5 – a national lockdown.”
Following the first national lockdown in spring of 2020, golf courses were one of the first sports facilities to reopen to allow amateur golfers to take part in the sport.
They remained open for the duration of the year, even when England entered a localised tier structure to suppress the virus, but were closed in response to a third wave of infections.
When will golf courses reopen in England?
Golf courses along with tennis courts and other outdoor sport facilities will reopen from 29 March, as part of step one of Boris Johnson’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown.
Also on this date, organised sport for adults and children, like grassroots football, will be able to restart.
This stage of the lockdown roadmap will also see schools in England reopen for all pupils from 8 March.
Outdoor after-school sports clubs and activities will also be allowed to restart.
People will be able to socialise outside with one friend or relative from another household from 8 March.
This means friends will be able to meet up and sit together in a park for a coffee, drink or picnic.
Current restrictions limit meet-ups to exercise only.
Larger groups of six people or two households will then be able to meet outside, including in private gardens, from 29 March.
Are golf courses open in Scotland?
As England courses closed, golf in Scotland remained open in a limited capacity.
Golf courses remained open for play with a maximum of two players from up to two households with the instruction that players must stay close to home and behave in line with Scottish government legislation.