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


Mind games begin ahead of the return to Saudi football as Hilal boss Lucescu challenges Nassr coach

Updated 03 August 2020

Mind games begin ahead of the return to Saudi football as Hilal boss Lucescu challenges Nassr coach

  • Victory in this Riyadh Derby will take the three-time Asian champions nine points clear of Al Nassr with just seven games remaining
  • There has been good and bad news for Al Nassr as Brazilian centre-back Maicon Pereira has arrived in Riyadh from Galatasaray and has been cleared to play

DUBAI: There may have been no football in Saudi Arabia for five months but the mind games are in full flow as ahead of the crucial top of the table clash in the Saudi Pro League on Wednesday, Al Hilal boss Razvan Lucescu has told Al Nassr coach Rui Vitoria that the pressure is all on him.

In the first game since March when the season was suspended due to coronavirus, Al Nassr in second, six points behind the leaders with eight games to play, can’t afford any slip-ups in the Riyadh Derby if they are to successfully defend the title they won last season.

“We are six points ahead and the opponent is under more pressure as they know they have to reduce the difference,” Lucescu told reporters at the pre-match press conference to the eagerly-awaited Riyadh Derby that will take place with no fans in the King Fahd International Stadium.

That points gap means that the smart money is still on Al Hilal to take league title number 16. Victory in this Riyadh Derby will take the three-time Asian champions nine points clear of Al Nassr with just seven games remaining.

Not only that but Al Hilal have looked to be in better shape than their challengers in recent warm-up games with a 2-2 draw with second tier side Al-Shoalah following a 4-0 win over Al Riyadh.

“We have been looking forward to this game for a long time,”  Lucescu, who took Al Hilal to the AFC Champions League title in 2019, added. “The league suspension has been long and it has not been easy but we have focused on the mental side of things and aim to return strongly.”

The Romanian has been boosted by the return to fitness of Brazilian star Carlos Eduardo who has recovered from last week’s knock. With the league’s leading goalscorer Bafetimbi Gomis signing a contract extension in July, Lucescu is in a positive frame of mind.

“We know the way they play and we know that it will be a tough game …but everyone is affected by the long pause and we all start at the same level. We are just going to take it step by step and stay focused.”

There has been good and bad news for Al Nassr as Brazilian centre-back Maicon Pereira has arrived in Riyadh from Galatasaray and has been cleared to play. The former Porto star will be needed as fellow defenders Omar Hawsawi and Abdullah Madu could miss out through injury.

While Hilal may have the points gap, in terms of the personal battles between the two coaches, Vitoria has the upper hand. The Portuguese boss has yet to lose in three meetings with his Romanian rival in big games in Europe as well as Saudi Arabia.

In a final play-off to reach the group stage of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League, Vitoria led Benfica to a 5-2 aggregate victory over PAOK, coached by Lucescu. After a 1-1 draw in Lisbon, the Portuguese powerhouse won 4-1 in Greece.

Earlier this season, Al Nassr inflicted Al Hilal’s only loss in the league this season so far with a 2-1 win at Hilal’s King Saud International Stadium in October with Moroccan forward Abderrazak Hamdallah getting both goals.

A similar result at Al Nassr’s home on Wednesday would breathe new life into the title race. Vitoria has stressed that recent friendly games were a chance to try out tactics and give players a run-out. Losses against Al Raed and Al Fateh however have given the Portuguese boss much to think about.

At the other end of the table.  Al Ittihad are just three places of the bottom of this 16-team league and in danger of the drop. The two-time AFC Champions League winners face a game on Tuesday at mid-table Abha where victory would provide the Jeddah giants with some much-needed breathing space.

The race for third and a place in the 2021 AFC Champions League is also a fierce one. Al Wehda are currently in the driving seat and host Al Shabab while Al Ahli in fourth and just two points behind host the struggling Al Hazem. Al Faisaly, Al-Taawon and Al Raed also have an outside chance of booking a place in next year’s continental competition.

All eyes will, however, be on the top of the table clash as Hilal can take a huge step towards the title. “I am happy with how the players have returned from the suspension and I am confident in  their abilities,”said Lucescu. “All we care about is winning the next match and that will help us win the league.”