National Golf Foundation Offers Comprehensive List of Precautions Courses are Taking Across U.S.

With golf courses beginning to open up across the country, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) has put together a comprehensive list of precautionary measures courses are taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“As the public seeks safe outdoor recreation opportunities amid the coronavirus outbreak, golf has shown that — in some areas removed from the virus hot spots — it can meet these criteria, albeit with significant operational adjustments,” writes NGF.

While the list is comprehensive, NGF adds that it is not an “official’ list and that operators should check with their local, county and state government for specific guidelines and regulations. 

Golf carts are banned in Rhode Island. PHOTO: Bradley Johnson/Flickr Commons


  • Take extensive precautionary measures to protect your staff. Distribute masks and gloves. Make sanitizers and tissues available and placed in convenient locations. Staff with flu-like symptoms must be asked to go home.
  • Conduct frequent golf course staff meetings to keep everyone up to date with latest information, best practices and facility operations protocol.
  • Staff and customers must practice 6-foot physical distancing at all times. Use colored tape on the ground, cones, or other visuals for easy reference.
  • Have all staff frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry hands thoroughly, preferably using a disposable paper towel.
  • Prohibit any group gatherings before or after rounds.
  • Require credit card and mobile payments only (no cash).
  • Reduce check-in interaction as much as possible– use some form of remote check-in process (iPad) or makeshift check-in window to avoid having golfers in the pro shop.
  • Consider closing the pro shop and moving check-in to the starter booth (often with starter behind glass or protective barrier).
  • If pro shop is open, keep smaller merchandise items typically on counters out of reach of customers.
  • Limit the number of customers permitted inside clubhouse or pro shop, if open.
  • Have staff frequently sanitize and keep work areas and customer interaction areas and touchpoints clean.
  • Increase number of available hand sanitizer stations.
  • Create highly-visible signage to inform customers of golf course protocol. Display signage in high-traffic areas throughout facility.
  • Provide and encourage online tee time scheduling and pre-payment if available.
  • Spread tee times to wider intervals: 12 to 20 minutes apart.
  • No more than four people per group and only one group at a time on any tee box.
  • Enforce a “One Golfer Per Cart” policy (exception may be for immediate family members).
  • Encourage golfers to walk rather than ride.
  • If carts are permitted, perform extra cleaning and sanitization before and after each use.
  • No club rentals
  • Prohibit any outside staff from handling customer golf bags or other belongings.
  • Remove pins from practice greens.
  • No shotgun starts, no group classes and no golf academy events.
  • Temporarily suspend caddie operations at facilities with caddie programs or fore-caddies only at resort properties.


  • Golf cups: cut and insert pool noodles or PVC pipe into cups, raise golf cups two to three inches above the ground, or insert cups upside down to eliminate the need for golfers to retrieve their golf balls.
  • Eliminate flagsticks and provide hole location sheets to golfers. If using flagsticks, clearly inform golfers on the “no touch” protocol, including signs on the sticks themselves.
  • Eliminate ball-washers and bunker rakes. Encourage “foot raking” of bunkers and introduce a “preferred lie” local bunker rule.
  • Remove on-course scorecards, pencils, golf tees, ball markers, and divot tool dispensers.
  • Remove water coolers and trash receptacles. Inform golfers prior to their round of golf.
  • If in use, set up practice facility with minimum physical distancing requirements.
  • Sanitize all range balls between uses.
  • Space golf cars in staging area to accommodate physical distancing requirements.
  • Have staff frequently sanitize touchable surfaces, golf cars, pull/push carts, bathrooms, etc.


  • Reserve tee time and pay for round online or by phone.
  • Do not drive to golf course with golfers beyond those you live with.
  • Adhere to safe social distancing guidelines before, during and after play.
  • Check course’s website for operating and safety protocols before play and respect facility’s rules.
  • Bring antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer for frequent use before, during and after play.
  • Handle your own golf bag at all times.
  • Walking is recommended; single-rider cart usage only if riding.
  • Do not touch flagstick or cup.
  • Avoid high-touch items beyond flagstick such as bunker rakes, ball-washers and water coolers.
  • Do not share clubs with other players.
  • Do not congregate on greens, tee boxes or other locations.
  • Do not shake hands with playing partners after round.
  • Do not linger at the facility after your round is finished. Go home.
  • Be cognizant of behavior as being able to play golf during this crisis is both an opportunity and responsibility.


  • Consider closing all F&B operations entirely.
  • If F&B operations are permitted to continue, allow take-out or delivery options only.
  • Except for take-out orders, restaurant dining areas must be closed to consumers.
  • Lock access doors and/or remove tables and chairs.
  • Food and beverage staff must wear gloves and refrain from touching their face.
  • Eliminate the beverage cart operation.
  • If beverage cart is in use, operator should accommodate only one golfer at a time and use hand sanitizer or change gloves between each transaction.
  • Beverage cart operator must frequently clean and sanitize all customer touchpoints.
  • Allow customers to bring their own refreshments and waive all “outside food and beverage” restrictions.



  • Communicate with students what the golf facility and lesson protocols are prior to their lesson time.
  • Maintain 6 – 10 feet of physical distancing practices.
  • Don’t touch student’s golf clubs, equipment or training aids.
  • If the student needs to borrow clubs, wipe down the grips and club components prior to and after use.

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