The R&A and Golf Australia have announced a series of temporary measures that will enable clubs to remove any hygiene implications related to complying with the Rules of Golf. These temporary measures are effective immediately and allow the Rules of Golf, and Model Local Rules, to be modified as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Various examples and the full announcement are below.


Scoring in Stroke Play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score

In view of concerns about handling and exchanging scorecards, on a temporary basis, Committees MAY CHOOSE to allow methods of scoring in stroke play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score that do not strictly comply with Rule 3.3b, or do not comply with the normal methods used under Rule 3.3b. For example:

  • Players may enter their own hole scores on the scorecard (it is not necessary for a marker to do it).
  • It is not necessary to have a marker physically certify the player’s hole scores, but some form of verbal certification should take place.
  • It is not necessary to physically return a scorecard to the Committee provided the Committee can accept the scores in another way.


Committees MAY CHOOSE to adopt the following policies:

  • Requiring players to leave the flagstick in the hole at all times. It is a matter for the Committee to decide whether it establishes this policy by Local Rule and provides a penalty for a breach of the Local Rule.
  • Not have flagsticks at all.


Committees MAY CHOOSE to adopt the following policies:

  • Have course staff position the hole liner at a very shallow level so that a ball can easily be extracted without touching the sides. A ball at rest in the hole will be considered to be holed even if it is not entirely below the level of the hole.
  • Whilst discouraged, it would also be permissible for course staff to position the hole liner upside down in the hole so that a part of the liner is above the surface of the hole. The ball would be considered to be holed if it hits the liner (we emphasise that whilst this second option is permissible, it should only be pursued as a last resort).


  • If rakes have been removed from the course, or if the Committee has requested that rakes not be used, it is recognised that bunkers may not be smoothed as effectively as when rakes are on the course. But it is recommended that no modification be made to the Rules of Golf in such circumstances, and that players be requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club. However, if this guidance to your members does not prove to be effective, Committees MAY CHOOSE to introduce either of the following Local Rule options:
  • Treat all bunkers as ground under repair and in the general area, or
  • Allow preferred lies in bunkers.


In response to the R&A’s announcement, the Chairman of Golf Australia, Andrew Newbold, said:

“The game of golf can offer a level of social engagement which will become increasingly important for many Australians. We want to do what we can to enable people to be provided with a recreational outlet, especially as concerns around mental and physical health will become more prominent. Golf Australia encourages every club to take advantage of this temporary flexibility that has been announced by the R&A, and to consider options which will ensure the Rules are not acting as a barrier to people getting out and enjoying the game.”

When considering these new options, clubs should be mindful of the following:

In order to take advantage of these new Local Rule options, your club will need to announce which options it is bringing into effect for play at your facility – these options do not automatically come into effect at your facility as a result of the R&A announcement.

Scores returned from competitions with any of the new Local Rules in effect must be processed through GOLF Link unless your club has been instructed otherwise by Golf Australia or your State Association.

These Local Rule options are temporary and are related to Covid-19 concerns. They will be available to clubs until Golf Australia advises otherwise.
Please email us at rules& if you have a query about any of the below Local Rule options, or if there are any other Local Rules you believe should be introduced at your club to manage concerns around Covid-19.



Member, Guest and Staff health advice

Golf clubs and facilities are often heavily trafficked, and there is a chance that a member, guest or member of your staff will be exposed to, or test positive to, COVID-19.

It is vitally important that if a member, guest or staff member tests positive to COVID-19, they must inform the club/facility as soon as possible. If this has occurred, anyone testing positive will be contacted by the State/Territory Department of Health in relation to contact tracing. You should then take advice on ongoing facility operations from your State/Territory Department of Health.
Playing Golf:

It should be noted that the vast majority of golfers can and should continue to visit your clubs and facilities as per normal. Of course, golfers should exhibit a heightened awareness of personal hygiene as has been encouraged by state and federal health departments. By its nature, golf promotes a level of social distancing and while it is important that this is adhered to, golf is a lower risk sport than many others.
Clubhouse & Golf Operations:

On Friday, March 20 the Australian Government announced a tightening of restrictions on its non-essential indoor gathering ban announced on Wednesday, March 18.

This tightening includes new restrictions to businesses of one person per four square metres of space. This will continue to be defined per single enclosed area of a venue. For example, you can have one person per four square metres in a function room including staff, while also having one person per four square metres in the bar. In a room of 100 square metres, you will be allowed to have 25 people, including staff, present in the room.

This will have a further significant impact on clubhouse operations for many golf clubs and facilities. Golf Australia recommends that all clubs and facilities review the size of each of their regularly trafficked clubhouse and function areas, and understand how this new restriction will affect each area of your clubhouse. You should look to place limits – based on the size of each room in your clubhouse – on how many of your members, guests and staff can be in each room at a particular time.

In addition, you should continue to review your clubhouse operational plans. Practical examples of this include:

Ensuring the number of chairs in your seated areas don’t exceed the limit of persons allowable in the room.
Clear signage on doors advertising the maximum people allowable per room.
Extending Clubhouse services to outdoor areas
Removing ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Two-Tee’ Starts to reduce peak service loads in Clubhouses’
Limiting the patrons who may enter the building at any one time, based on the capacity of your clubhouse and its rooms under the one person per four square metres of space rule.
Limiting bookings for dining services, accordingly, taking into account staff numbers that will be present in the building based on the capacity of your clubhouse and its rooms under the one person per four square metres of space rule.
Increasing use of ‘Halfway Huts’ and ‘Catering Carts’ to minimise the requirement for Clubhouse use
Reviewing the requirements for Clubhouse operations.

It will continue to be important for club Boards and management to review contingencies to plan stages ahead for club operations should public information change.

Practices within clubhouses should display a heightened regard for the sanitation of surfaces, of which your cleaning chemical provider will be able to provide guidance on.

Staff and volunteers should exhibit a heightened awareness of personal hygiene as has been encouraged by state and federal health departments.

Golf Australia has collated a range proactive actions that Clubs have implemented across the country.

This list can be found on Golf Australia’s website, on the dedicated COVID-19 page, and will be updated from time to time. If Clubs would like to share what they are doing in their facility, they can send these stories to

Golf Australia – staff update:

All Golf Australia staff will work from home until Tuesday, March 31. If there is any change in these dates, we will advise all clubs and facilities closer to that date.

We will still be contactable via regular means such as phone and e-mail, and our reception phone will be diverted to ensure all incoming calls are answered.

As previously noted, the virus and potential implications are changing constantly and we will continue to monitor accordingly, and provide updates to clubs and facilities as regularly as required, or alternatively when additional Federal Government updates are announced.

For further information from the Federal Government on COVID-19, the Coronavirus Health Information Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 020 080.

If you require additional information or have questions please do not hesitate to contact Golf Australia on (03) 9626 5000 or

About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


Follow on Twitter View all Posts Visit Website

Comments Closed