New government rules force closure of golf courses

On Monday, golfing administrators advised all golf clubs and facilities to close until further notice in response to national governmental Stage Three shutdowns.

Golf clubs received notifications from their state bodies in the belief these measures will assist in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic with many informing their members that is will be an offence to enter the course for practice or play and that police will take strict action against offenders.

Royal Melbourne Golf Club Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Credit: Gary Lisbon/

The recommendation is based on the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday that limits outdoor gatherings to two persons or less and that everyone should stay at home except for shopping for essentials, medical purposes, exercise, work and education.

Many Victorian clubs had already closed their doors, some as early as last Thursday, in a sign of responsible action but a number of clubs particularly in NSW continued to hold open competitions with some fielding more that 200 players each day in groups of four players.

Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency. Over the past weeks, golf courses have been packed with golfers enjoying the sport as an escape from the current climate.

Yet it was obvious that this situation was not sustainable in the long run. Golf courses have become the latest domino to fall in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, there are no further restrictions on turf management or course management operations as a result of Monday’s announcement from Golf Australia.

GA’s chairman Andrew Newbold said it was the view of the authorities that whilst golf may be viewed as a form of exercise it did not fall within the parameters as to the Prime Minister’s announcement.

“Golf Australia acknowledges that some state and territory governments will provide additional information and we will keep you up to date as and when additional state and territory-based announcements are made so you are clear on the legalities of golf courses and their operations moving forward, said Newbold.

“Golf Australia will keep you all up to date as to the status of these discussions, although it should be noted that as of now there are no further restrictions on current greenkeeping operations.”

With club subscriptions looming, Boards will be faced with the delicate situation as to extending subscriptions during the period of the shut out or asking for members to make payments for a facility they cannot access.

With hundreds of golf club across Australia on the brink of financial collapse following two decades of declining membership, asking existing members to fork out for something they cannot use is not going to help what was an already unsustainable model.

Hopefully some sanity will prevail and we can all return to the clubs and fairways we enjoyed before.