09 Apr 2020

Light at the end of the tunnel for UAE golfers as golf clubs in Abu Dhabi reopen

COVID-19 has had a shattering effect on the world and the UAE has been no different with Dubai having been put on lockdown and people being advised to stay at home. However, golf is considered one of the safest sports as it can be played with social distancing. Therefore some courses around the world such as TPC Sawgrass have implemented new protocols to keep the players and members safe during the pandemic. On Tuesday, the three Troon golf courses in the UAE capital – Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links Golf Club – were reopened for MEMBERS ONLY but under strict guidelines after receiving approval from ownership and local authorities.

The three Abu Dhabi clubs will open each day at 7:30am with the first tee time from 8:00am and will close at 6:30pm in line with the current Abu Dhabi Sterilization Program. They will adhere to strict precautions and guidelines advised by Ownership, TROON and local authorities for health and safety measures and social distancing advise. Some of the long list of rules are: one golfer per buggy, maximum of three golfers playing together, all golf holes have been adjusted so that the cup presents the ball in a manner that allows the golfer to pick up their ball without touching the flag, players must bring their own food and soft drinks, no cash payments and all individual temperatures will be checked upon entry.

Plastic foam is seen to raise a hole at Windsor Parke Golf Club as a part of the ‘No Touch’ policy amid the Coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

But is golf safe to play during the coronavirus pandemic? Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious disease at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said on USA Today: “Golf is very unique in that aspect in which of course you can be in a bit more wide-open space, you’re using theoretically your own equipment. And in those circumstances it’s probably going to be safe, although because we don’t know much about this virus, our understanding is constantly evolving.”

Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, also believes golf is a rare athletic escape from the coronavirus. He told the Wall Street Journal: “I believe that adequate social distancing can be performed with golfing. If people can remain six feet apart and not touch common surfaces the game is likely safe.”

The members at the Abu Dhabi golf clubs are delighted that they can go out and play again in a safe manner with a source saying:  “People are very happy and respect everybody’s choice, so if it is offered to you, why not! After all it’s probably safer playing golf than going out shopping for food.”

The Abu Dhabi clubs Health and Safety and Operational guidelines may alter at any time and according to the direction they receive from ownership and local authorities, changes could be made at short notice.

Let’s see if other golf clubs in the UAE follow suit but it may be a while longer for the Dubai golf clubs who are still in lockdown for at least the next 10 days!

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