Playing Golf in Asia During Covid-19

Keep your distance at all times and constantly wash or sanitize your hands and golf equipment

It's great news that golf courses across Asia are re-opening but that does not mean that you should drop your guard because although being in the outdoors reduces the risk you should still take sensible precautions to avoid infection.  Social distancing is still the key and perhaps it is better to avoid the practice range and other potentially crowded spaces so that you can keep your distance from other golfers.  Although there is conflicting advice on this, we suggest that wearing a face mask may also help to protect you.

It goes without saying that if you feel at all unwell then do not go to the course – it may be just a cold but you never know and you would never forgive yourself if you infected your buddies with the virus.

Obviously, you should avoid the customary 1st & 18th tee greetings and handshakes and substitute with another greeting.  Elbow bumps seem to be the safest way to accomplish this if you feel the need to connect with your fellow players.  Make sure you pack plenty of antiseptic handwipes and hand sanitizer.

Practice social distancing at all times on the course

1. How should you behave during the round?

You should constantly sanitize your hands and wash your hands with soap and water at every opportunity for at least 20 seconds and try to avoid touching your mouth or face.  On the tee box keep at least 2 metres away from your playing partners and your caddie and the same applies on the greens and fairways.  If you stay out of range and avoid any close contact then you dramatically reduce your chance of catching the virus.

Some courses have modified the flagstick and holes so that you can avoid touching them – if not you should immediately sanitize your hands after retrieving your ball.

2. Handling golf clubs during the round?

It is suggested that you wipe down any parts of the club that may touch the golf cart and we strongly suggest that you do not hire clubs at this time.  If playing with a caddie we suggest that you select the club yourself and do not allow your caddie to touch the handles of your clubs – they can clean the club head without touching the handle.

3. What about your golf glove?

It’s not ideal as, depending on the brand, it can make the golf a bit slick but if you want to be extra safe then use sanitizer on your glove as well.

4. How should you handle your golf balls?

First of all don’t let anyone else touch your ball and after picking up your ball from the cup it would be best to sanitize.  Again, if playing with a caddie, it would be better not to let them handle the ball at all but if they need to clean it then better to sanitize before putting. If, while searching for your ball, you find someone else’s ball then perhaps leave it there or sanitize before picking up.

Example of altered flagstick and cup

5. Is it safe to use a golf cart?

It would be better if you were to walk as then there is no danger of picking up any contamination from the cart.  If you must take a cart then make sure you wipe down the steering wheel, seat and any other area that others may have touched.  Perhaps ask your caddie to stand on the back on the cart if that is possible as it's difficult to practice social distancing with a caddie sitting beside you.  Obviously sharing carts should be avoided.

6. What about the drinks hut or beverage cart?

If the golf course permits it then buy your own drinks before arriving at the course and it's safer to buy from a drinks hut or beverage cart rather than the clubhouse as its less crowded.  Ideally the staff should be wearing gloves but even so you should sanitize bottles and cans and decant them into cups or your own container rather than touching them to your mouth.

7. Do I still have to rake bunkers?

Avoid handling any rakes left beside or in bunkers – maybe clean up the best you can with your feet. If you have a caddie then they will do it for you but maybe ask them to sanitize their hands after handling the rake.

Do not touch the rake

8. Can I use the clubhouse and changing rooms?

The more time you spend in the clubhouse the more opportunity to become infected.  Go in - register at pro-shop and get out as soon as possible. Don’t use the shower facilities or changing rooms unless absolutely necessary and if unavoidable then constantly wash or sanitize your hands.

9. How do I behave with my playing partners?

Make sure everyone in your group is feeling OK and keep as far away from them as possible – avoid hand shaking and maybe forgo that post-match beer in the clubhouse.  Don’t touch or pick up their golf balls or share any other equipment.