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


Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

Updated 15 July 2020

Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

  • PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans

WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods admitted Tuesday that concern over the coronavirus delayed his return to the PGA Tour as he prepares to play his first event since February at this week's Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

The former world No. 1 has not played since appearing in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February but will tee off at Muirfield on Thursday chasing a sixth victory in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event.

The 44-year-old 15-time major winner said Tuesday he had contemplated returning to the tour earlier but had wanted to see how the first few events of the post-coronavirus shutdown fared before coming back.

"I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe," Woods said Tuesday.

"I'm used to playing with lots of people around me or having lots of people have a direct line to me, and that puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family, and just been at home practicing and social distancing and being away from a lot of people.

"Coming back and playing the tour, in my case over the 20-some-odd years I've been out here, that's really hard to say, that I'm used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee.

"That's something that I looked at and said, well, I'm really not quite comfortable with that, that whole idea."

Memorial organizers had initially planned to allow fans on the course at this week's tournament, but abandoned that idea as COVID-19 cases across the US began to skyrocket.

On Monday, PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans.

It means Woods will tee off on Thursday alongside world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka without the customary horde of spectators that usually follows him around a course.

"It's going to be different, there's no doubt about it," Woods said.

"For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I've been involved in, I've had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media."

Woods, who is making only his fourth tournament appearance of the season this week, said he has improved his health during the long layoff.

A stiff back hampered his performance at the Genesis in February, but Woods said he had not been troubled since.

"I feel so much better than I did then," Woods said.

"I've been able to train and concentrate on getting back up to speed and back up to tournament speed.

During Woods' layoff, the US was convulsed by nationwide protests against racism following the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minneapolis on May 25.

Woods said he applauded efforts of Black Lives Matter activists to bring about change.

"I think change is fantastic as long as we make changes without hurting the innocent, and unfortunately that has happened. 

Hopefully it doesn't happen in the future, but a movement and change is fantastic," Woods said.

"That's how society develops. That's how we grow. That's how we move forward. That's how we have fairness."