Call to follow tightened restrictions

Golf clubs in England were closed this week as new restrictions to fight the coronavirus were put in place.

IN a week that saw golf brought to a standstill in England, the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) issued mandatory standard operating procedures (MSOPs) of their own.

Reports had it that all golf clubs, golf courses, driving ranges and facilities were to be closed in England as part of lockdown restrictions, with facilities in Scotland allowed to remain open, albeit with tighter restrictions in place.

In a communiqué sent out earlier this week to presidents, captains, chief executive officers, general managers, managers, affiliated clubs, associations and societies, Malaysian Golf Association president Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor (R) outlined what he said were restrictions that were designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

He said the MSOPs are to be enforced with immediate effect, except the procedure related to buggies.

“Twin-sharing buggies are permitted provided they are fitted with a plastic screen separator, effective February 1.

“However, usage of a single buggy (per golfer) is encouraged, ” said Anwar.

He added that golf competitions were also allowed provided there is no prize giving and a gathering restricted to a maximum of 100 players – except for golf clubs situated in red zones.

“Any other private competitions held at golf clubs shall require prior sanction from MGA.”

The Senior Defence Minister Datuk Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Health Minister Datuk Sri Adham Baba were copied in the communiqué and Anwar added that “any breach or failure on your part for the non-compliance of the MSOPs may subject your club to be imposed with sanctions that may include, but not limited to, the closure and/or issuance of fines or compounds.”

Turning to the Rules of Golf with regards to the playing of bunkers, Anwar said the Preferred Lies Rules is to be enforced, given that rakes are not to be used and players should make best efforts to smoothen the sand using the feet or a club after play.

With this, golfers are allowed to place the ball once within two club lengths in the bunker, not nearer the hole than where the ball came to rest and without penalty.

A breach of the rules here would be the loss of the hole in match play and a two strokes penalty in stroke play.

According to their “Covid-19 Updated Guidance on the Rules of Golf” the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the world governing body outside of the United States and Mexico and under whose jurisdiction the MGA falls, the committee (or club/organisers) could “change the status of the bunkers to be part of the general area and declare all of them to be ground under repair”.

Among the pre-game MSOPs, golfers with colds or coughs or any symptoms of Covid-19 shall be prohibited from entering the golf club.

Bookings are to be made in advance and done only with online payments or bank transfers.

The use of MySejahtera to record golfers and employees entry to a golf club is also stipulated, as is the completion and submission of a health/travel declaration form by each golfer prior registration.

During the game all touchable surfaces like (bunker) rakes, water coolers, sand bags and ball washers are to be removed and social distancing enforced at tee-boxes, fairways, on the greens and throughout the round.

After the game do not hand in your golf scorecards physically. Instead, take a photo and send it by SMS/WhatsApp or email.

Hand sanitisers should be made available throughout the clubhouse, along with separate entry and exit points, to maintain social distancing.

Golf clubs are to sanitise their buggies before and after every use, and caddies are to wear masks and gloves at all times.

Social distancing too should be enforced strictly at driving ranges.

Golfers of all skill levels and all clubs and facilities are encouraged to adhere to the SOPs laid down, if only to not meet with the same fate of those in England.

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