New COVID-19 protocols as golf set for tee off

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With the reopening of the sport following more than a three-month break, golfers will have to adopt to a new set of novel coronavirus protocols when they start playing again, says Peter Chin, president of the Jamaica Golf Association.

Golf is one of the first sports set to return to the local schedule with events set to start this coming weekend and at least another 10 before the end of the year, including the national amateur championships set for the White Witch course at Half Moon in July.

In an interview with marketing and media personality Trudy Williams recently, Chin said they had adopted protocols from a number of golf associations including the US Golf Association, tweaked them to local conditions which have been accepted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, “so we are ready to open up”.

Chin said, “What most of the clubs have insisted on are that [golf] carts normally carry two players but now it’s just one player per cart; normally it is one caddy per player, now it’s restricted to one or two to a group, social distance is easily maintained in golf and we can accommodate people being six feet apart or more.”

The JGA boss also said, “most golf clubs are insisting on masks being worn inside and lots of sanitising,” and added that unlike most other sports, especially those that include physical contact, golf had never really shut down completely.

“Because of the nature of the game where there is no physical contact and most of the social distance protocols can be observed, golf did not stop on a casual basis even during the early days of the pandemic. The local courses were still open but the others on the north coast which are owned by hotels were closed… they are opened now but competitions stopped in March when everything shut down.”

Among the events that were affected, he told the Jamaica Observer, were the Caribbean Junior Golf Championships and the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships.

The national junior team was selected after their Trials but the onset of the novel coronavirus saw the cancellation of the tournament, he said.

“We have a number of events on the golfing calendar and we expect to resume in July. All being well, we should have about 10 events before the year ends. The Junior Cup to start in July and national amateurs at Half Moon in July, so competitive golf will be back,” observed Chin.

— Paul Reid

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