The Irish golf unions have published the protocol for the sport’s safe return in Northern Ireland although the date when clubs will be able to reopen is yet to be specified.
The protocol is largely the same as the Republic of Ireland’s with members initially only allowed to play at times which have been booked.
In step one, a maximum of three players will be permitted in groups.
Three balls will require to be 14 minutes apart initially.
No competitions will be held during step one with clubhouses remaining closed apart from proshops and locker-rooms for the retrieval of golf equipment.
From step two onwards in the reopening of Northern Ireland published by the Stormont Executive this week, with again the date unspecified at the moment, groups of four will be permitted while member’s guests can also be booked.
Closed club competitions will be allowed to start from phase two with open competitions starting at the beginning of the next phase when clubs will also be permitted to welcome visitors.
Club restaurants and bars will not be allowed to open until the fifth and final stage which appears likely to be several months away.
Players not allowed to touch flagstick
On-course rules include not being allowed to touch the flagstick while players who lose a ball will not be permitted to return to where they hit their previous shot.
Players are also asked to ensure that they do not arrive at clubs more than 15 minutes before tee times while they should not go to the first tee more than five minutes before their allotted times.
Given the physical distancing requirements, players should also not enter teeing areas during their rounds until the group in front have exited.
“We await confirmation from the (Northern Ireland) Executive of an exact date when golf can re-commence, which will be using the protocol jointly published by the GUI and ILGU,” said a statement from the golf unions.
“As one of the first sports to be allowed to resume, there is a major responsibility on golf clubs and golfers to ensure that our sport is conducted in a safe and responsible manner. Full adherence to the provisions of this protocol is absolutely essential.
“It should be noted that the Executive continues to monitor the situation closely and have not ruled out the reintroduction of restrictions which could see golf clubs closed once again, if the protocol is not followed.”
Golf will resume in the Republic of Ireland on Monday and there is optimism that a date for the sport’s return in Northern Ireland could be announced on the same day.