NI Executive to discuss golf courses reopening after Republic's move

Royal Portrush staged last year's Open Championship
Royal Portrush has been missing out on an anticipated influx of US visitors after hosting a hugely successful Open Championship in 2019

The Northern Ireland Executive is set to discuss the potential reopening of golf courses in NI this week.

Courses in the Republic of Ireland will reopen on a restricted basis from 18 May after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's announcement on Friday.

"We continue to press the Executive, on behalf of our clubs in NI, to make that same step," said Kevin Stephens, GUI Ulster Branch Executive Officer.

"Golf is a sport which can be played under social distancing guidelines."

He added: To ensure that this is enforced, clubs will be required to sign up to the protocol issued by the GUI & ILGU, before opening.

"This protocol has been circulated to Sport NI and other government departments. It will form the basis of discussions with all of the interested parties during the next seven days, and we await their response with interest."

Course closed

The Golfing Union of Ireland's UIster branch shut golf clubs in NI in March to adhere to social distancing.

The first phase of the reopening will be for members only and will see strict social distancing measures in place.

Flag sticks and bunker rakes will be removed while groups will be limited to two players teeing off in 15-minute intervals.

On Friday, Varadkar outlined the first phase of the Irish Government's plan for partially relaxing Covid-19 restrictions later this month.

In response, Irish golf's governing bodies said they had been "engaging intensively" with the government regarding the return of sport on a limited basis.

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