As golf courses in England re-open today the Welsh Government yesterday gave the green light for courses in Wales to follow suit, with Wales Golf, the Governing body, suggesting that some courses will be able to re-open from 18 May – but only for local members.

Jason Thomas, the director of the Welsh Government’s culture, sport and tourism department, explained:

“Legal clarification is that golf courses are not included on the list of businesses or establishments that must remain closed – they have never been on that list,” he said.

“It’s been other measures in force that has restricted the ability of the clubs to open. We have clarified that we do want to encourage people to exercise but exercise locally, so we are expecting a statement from Wales Golf imminently on the back of our clarification, because they may be minded to suggest to clubs that they can open so they can ensure that local members can play.”

While golf is counted as exercise, the Government website clarifies that:

In general, exercise should not involve people driving away from home to exercise. No journeys outside your local area should be taken to exercise in the countryside, at the coast or at other beauty spots, for example – many beauty spots have been closed to prevent people gathering.

However, people with specific health or mobility issues may need to travel a short distance from their home to exercise. For example, some wheelchair users may not be able to exercise immediately outside their homes for practical reasons. In such circumstances the journey should be to the nearest convenient accessible location.

While the guidelines on travel are not specific, the Government website explains:

“People are asked to exercise good judgement and common sense. If you live in Cardiff and have driven to Porthcawl to exercise on the beach, you haven’t stayed local.”

However, any golf clubs opening will need to ensure that members adhere to social distancing regulations, and restrictions on groups will still apply, so rather than the usual ‘clubs’, golfers will be expected to exercise only with their immediate family members.

Wales Golf said in a statement:

“Following recent Welsh Government announcements and the revision of certain Covid-19 related restrictions golf clubs are permitted to open if they so wish. 

“It is entirely at each golf club’s discretion as to whether they choose to open and if so when they choose to do so.  We would advise that clubs that do wish to re-open do not do so immediately so as to ensure they have sufficient protocols in place to adhere to these guidelines, which we will be on hand to assist with. This would allow for a managed and co-ordinated reintroduction of golf across Wales from next Monday 18 May at the earliest.”