Is It Safe For Greenkeepers To Work During The Coronavirus Lockdown?

Courses in the UK are now closed so does that mean that greenkeepers are not allowed to work? It is still slightly unclear...

Course managers
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Courses in the UK are now closed so does that mean that greenkeepers are not allowed to work? It is still slightly unclear...

Is It Safe For Greenkeepers To Work During The Coronavirus Lockdown?

After Boris Johnson's demand for people to stay indoors for three weeks due to Coronavirus outbreak, golf's national unions told clubs and courses to close.

The government advice was for people to only leave their house to go to work, buy food or medicine, or to exercise once per day.

Initially this made some believe that golf was still open due to the fact that it is exercise, but then on the other hand it is unnecessary travel getting to-and-from the course.

Related: How social media reacted to UK golf courses closing

The R&A backed the national union decisions to close all courses immediately.

But with the courses closed, what does this mean for greenkeepers?

BIGGA, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, were informed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that they can still go to work for security and essential maintenance reasons.

“For security and essential maintenance reasons greens staff can still attend work," the brief statement said.

BIGGA is trying to clear up what exactly that means, as does maintaining the golf course count as essential maintenance when there won't be any golfers playing for at least three weeks?

We are in an unprecedented time and health, of course, has to come before everything.

Here's how BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton reacted to the news:

Mine and most peoples' guesses probably are that essential maintenance includes maintaining the golf course, as I can't even imagine what an unattended golf course looks like after three weeks and how long it would take that to get back to a playable condition, therefore costing clubs much-needed money.

Currently it sounds as if clubs are either suspending their greens staff whilst we're on lockdown, keeping them separate in pod systems or allowing them to continue their jobs under safe practices.

My own club's greenkeepers didn't go to work today but are returning tomorrow in a pod system.

We'll wait for more clarification and will perhaps see a universal system put in place with greenkeeping teams across the country over the next few days.

"England Golf have put guidelines out that allow us to work as long as we maintain safe practices," Chipstead Golf Club Course Manager Sam Bethel replied to us.

"Some are having none in, some are reducing staff levels, some have split their teams up.

"All about being sensible and whether you can be safe on your journey to/from work too."

BIGGA is stresing "that our members’ health and that of their families come first."

We must be very thankful to our hardworking greens staff who are currently facing unprecedented and unimaginable times after what has been a dark and difficult winter in the UK.

We'll surely hear more over the coming days.

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV