May 15, 2020

Rules of Golf - Tournaments During Reopening

What will tournaments look like when we resume?

Written by: Darin Green, Senior Director of Rules & Competitions

Nearly all of Florida is now in Phase One of the reopening plan, we expect to be entering Phase Two soon and then with some luck, Phase Three will be here sooner rather than later. As we enter Phase Two, the FSGA has been carefully considering how competitions can be conducted. We have players across state eagerly awaiting competitive golf to reopen and we hope we can offer them competitions to play in soon.

When should we start holding competitions? Well, luckily for us, there are very smart people out there that are advising the golf industry. A group of industry leaders including the PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA, USGA, Golf Course Superintendents Association, Club Management Association, and the National Golf Course Owners Association collaborated and formed the Back2Golf plan outlining operational guidelines. It is a three-phased approached that follows along with the three-phased approach of the national reopening plan. Back2Golf was presented to the CDC, the first sport to present a plan to the CDC, and many top doctors. Using the Back2Golf plan as guidance, along with state and local governments, the FSGA is creating our own plan to reasonably conduct competitions as Florida enters Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan.

What will competitions look like in Phase Two? The answer is a bit unknown at this time, but it will be different and it will change as more guidance is provided and as sanctions are lifted. Single carts with smaller than normal fields is likely. Time restraints on arriving and departing the club will be implemented. No rakes, a device or object in the hole, and no removing of the flagstick is likely. Scorecards and the process of verifying your scorecard in the scoring area will change. Those few changes mentioned is the just the tip of the iceberg, we are working on many more!

The USGA recently released statement on the Rules of Golf during this reopening time-frame, the Rules may be modified to allow for the changes in the previous paragraph, and others not mentioned. For instance, a Code of Conduct can be implemented to prohibit touching of the flagstick. Additionally, asking players to smooth bunker sand with their feet is allowed. Many have asked if we will allow free relief in bunkers for bad lies or play lift, clean, and place. The answer is “no,” just like in the old days. The USGA’s full press release and recommendations can be found here.

We look forward to seeing you on the course! Stay safe out there!

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