Golf courses in Saudi Arabia to reopen from May 31

Following government guidance, the Saudi Golf Federation (SGF) has confirmed that all of the country’s domestic golf courses will reopen this week, starting from Sunday May 31. (Saudi Golf)
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Updated 30 May 2020

Golf courses in Saudi Arabia to reopen from May 31

  • All golf clubs were included in the first phase of the government’s reopening plan
  • There are strict health and safety guidelines and precautionary measures that golf clubs must adhere to

RIYADH: Following government guidance, the Saudi Golf Federation (SGF) has confirmed that all of the country’s domestic golf courses will reopen this week, starting from Sunday May 31.

After more than two months of controlled movement and closures, the Saudi government this week set out a specific timetable to lift current restrictions in three phases. 

All golf clubs were included in the first phase of the government’s plans and have been given official permission to allow their members to return.


However, there are strict health and safety guidelines and precautionary measures that golf clubs must adhere to, if continued play is to be permitted. As part of these new measures, golfers must pre-book their round in advance, and wear masks upon arrival. Temperature checks will also be conducted on arrival for all members and anyone showing signs of illness will be asked to leave the course.

Commenting on the measures put in place to ensure golf’s safe return in Saudi Arabia, Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “It is great news that we are now in a position to reintroduce the game we all love across the Kingdom, in line with the latest government regulations. As one of the sports which can be played safely during this period, we urge everyone to be respectful of the phased approach taken by the Saudi Golf Federation.”

Al-Sorour added: “We will continuously monitor the situation both in the Kingdom, and across the world and we have not ruled out the reintroduction of further restrictions if the guidelines are not followed correctly. It is therefore imperative that both golf clubs and members take the necessary steps and adhere to guidelines, if facilities are to remain open in the weeks ahead.”

Additional restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include the use of physical distancing, with members keeping at least two meters apart from each other at all times.

Golf carts will only be permitted to be used by one golfer and concierge services will also be closed, meaning players will need to carry their bags to and from their own vehicles.

To prevent overcrowding on all courses, tee times have been extended to 14-minute intervals, with a maximum of three players per slot. This gap will not be altered for one or two balls.

Restaurants and cafeterias will remain closed for seating, with takeaway orders possible via the on-course cart or telephone order. For payments, only contactless or card payments will be accepted. Shower and locker facilities will also remain closed.

Player-specific restrictions have also been put in place ahead of next week to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When playing from bunkers, golfers will be asked to make their very best efforts to smooth the sand using their club or their feet, rather than use a rake. Pick and place rules apply for bad lies. It will be forbidden for players to touch or handle the flagstick.

Putts will need to be completed with the flagstick in, with players removing their own balls from the hole. Following the play of a hole, players should not enter the next teeing area until all members of the group in front have played their tee shots and left the tee box. Only one golfer should be on the tee at any given time. 

Ahead of next week’s return to golf, courses up and down the Kingdom have been hard at work to ensure conditions are pristine for the return of members. Despite restrictions resulting in a shortage of labor, agronomy teams have continued to work hard ensuring both the greens and fairways remain in superb shape, with their efforts being recognised by Al Sorour:

“Thankfully, all of our clubs have had the experience and skills to remain calm and continue their preparations unheeded, without knowing exactly when golf would be able to safely return. We will continue to remain in regular dialogue with the government, updating golf facilities and players on changes to regulations and procedures as restrictions across the Kingdom continue to lift. Given the continuous change in restrictions, there may be a requirement for the Saudi Golf Federation to update and reissue guidelines at regular intervals to reflect government and global advice.”

For further information on how to golf safely, please visit: www.golfsaudi.com


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.