FAQs: Golf Course Re-Openings


We have been getting questions about the opening date today (May 16th) and wanted to share the main FAQs. Please understand that this is guidance only, and if in doubt, each facility should refer back to the government guidelines.


Q: How do I interpret the government guidelines that have been issued?

These guidelines are framed up as “Guidance on Health and Safety for the Golf Course Sector during COVID-19” in the government document. As such, these are guidelines and best practices and while there is room for some interpretation, the underlying principles of practicing social distancing (staying 2 metres away from others), proper hand hygiene, keeping surfaces and objects clean, and preventing contact with potentially infected people are what are critical for all facilities to focus on. The rest of the government document is laid out as Best Practices and options for your protection, and should be followed wherever possible. These government documents are linked here:


· Workplace Safety & Prevention Services: Guidance on Health and Safety for the Golf Course Sector during COVID-19 | released by Ontario Government May 14, 2020.

· COVID-19 Sector-Specific Health and Safety Guidance Documents

· Ontario Government's A Framework for Reopening Our Province



In addition, We Are Golf has also issued a similar set of protocols. While the government document should be considered the default document, the We are Golf Document is supplemental and provides some good guidance as well.

·       Ontario’s We Are Golf Best Practices

·       Ontario’s We Are Golf – Player Guide


In the end, every facility is slightly different, and the goal for everyone should be to put health and safety first in everything that you do and make choices that ensure your golfers and your staff can operate in a safe environment. Better safe than sorry is probably the way to approach any challenging decisions you face.


Q: What are the recommended Flagstick/Cup rules?

The guidance is to ensure that processes are in place to eliminate the need for players to contact the pin or cup. Given this, the flagstick should stay in place at all times, and additional measures should be put in place to ensure that players do not need to contact the pin or cup.


As reference, the government guidance is as follows: “To eliminate transmission via surfaces such as flag poles and cups, leave the flag in place and elevate the cup at each hole so that the ball does not drop into the hole. Play is concluded when the ball makes contact with the cup. 1” 


While this calls out raising the cup, the footnote references the Saskatchewan document which says “Flags must remain in place and measures must be taken to prevent the ball from dropping in the hole, eliminating the need for players to contact the pin or cup. This may include such measures as levelling the cup, elevating the cup or installing a touch-free ball removal mechanism”.


Q: What are the recommended Cart rules?

The government guidance calls out that courses should “Limit golf cart use to one cart per golfer’. This is smart guidance and virtually all clubs that we have spoken with are mandating this.


** NOTE: We have reached out to the Ontario government today for clarification, but as of right now we are unable to confirm if the only exception to this is if 2 golfers from the same household (with photo ID proof) arrive together, they then may ride in the same cart; which is the case in most other provinces.


Q: What are the recommended Tee Time rules?

The government guidance states that you should ‘Stagger tee times to avoid congestion’. This leaves the decision for intervals in the hands of the golf course operator. It is suggested to increase your tee time intervals vs. your normal spacing to ensure the rules of social distancing are easily followed, or to include “starter tee times” throughout the day to relieve pressure on the first tee. The key here is to not allow golfers to congregate on the first tee, or anywhere else on the course. The other recommended guideline here is limit how early a golfer may arrive before their tee time.


Q: Can the Range and Practice Facilities Open?

Yes, they can. On both the range and practice facilities, procedures must be in place to avoid congestion and to ensure that all players and staff can remain at least 2 metres away from one another.


For reference, here is the guidance from Ontario’s We Are Golf Best Practices for putting greens:

“Close putting green or place alignment sticks, or stakes on the putting green as targets, and/or turn the cups upside down and leave in the hole. Remove all flags and institute a “bring your own practice balls policy.” Limit the use of the putting green if open to 4 people maximum, this may need to be reduced depending on size of the area or can be increased as well”


For additional reference, here are the Clublink SOP rules:



Practice facilities (driving range, putting green and short game areas) are open to golfers with booked tee times 20 minutes prior to their tee time.


Driving Range:

  • Driving range stations will be spread out at least 4 meters apart with distinct separation between stations.
  • All non-essential items such as bag stands or den caddies shall be removed.
  • Golf balls shall be stacked in pyramids to minimize touch points.
  • All range-balls shall be cleaned, with water and soap, after every pick-up prior to making them available for golfers.


Putting Green/Short Game:

  • Golfers must use their own golf balls.
  • Pins shall be modified with a nail or spike. No holes shall be cut in putting green.
  • All bunker rakes shall be removed.


Q: Can club storage be offered?

While there is no specific recommendation from the government around club storage, we believe the best practice here is to NOT allow for club storage at this time. This increases potential touch points dramatically, and should be avoided.


Q: Can club rentals be offered?

While there is no specific recommendation from the government around club rentals, we believe the best practice here is to NOT allow for club rentals at this time. This increases potential touch points dramatically, and should be avoided.

Q: Am I allowed to offer ‘Beverage Cart’ service

Again, while there is no specific recommendation from the government around beverage cart, any sit down food and beverage service is prohibited. If beverage cart service is provided, this service must be provided to avoid unnecessary gathering, and the facility must ensure that the staff member is safe, willing and continuing to adhere to social distancing practices.

As noted above, here is the government document specifically geared to restaurant and food service: Restaurants.


You should have specific procedures around the beverage cart.  Example, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:

  • PPE - mandatory gloves for server (because touching cans/packaged food)
  • Must wipe credit/debit machine (if have device) after every use
  • Must have hand sanitizer available for guests & staff if dealing with cash
  • Develop a "Beverage Cart Serving Procedure" and be sure to post on cart
    • STEP 1: Customer orders while maintaining a physical distance of 6ft.
    • STEP 2: Beverage server gets drinks from cooler and places on "beverage pick up" location (could be on a tray / metal insert pan that is placed on beverage cart)
    • STEP 3: Beverage server accepts payment from customer (have specific procedures around this)
    • STEP 4: Customer Pick Up: Beverage serverensures a physical distance of 6ft.  Customer approaches beverage "pick up", takes purchased good and returns immediately to cart/bag.

UPDATES: Golf Course Re-Openings


Clarification on Golf Cart Rule

We have received clarification from the Government of Ontario today on the usage of golf carts as it relates to same household golfers sharing a single cart. The updated government guidance calls out that courses should:

Limit golf cart use to one cart per golfer with the exception of those golfers who reside in the same household; and consider providing sanitizing wipes for customers. NOTE: Riders in the same cart must be able to prove they live in the same household.


Please click here to read the complete updated government guidance document.


Seeking Clarity on these Member Questions

NGCOA Canada is also seeking clarity from the Ontario Government on these additional member questions related to power cart usage:


·   Can golfers have 2 golf bags on 1 power cart as long as it is the same golfer driving the cart for the entire round?


·   Are cart dividers (including hard plexiglass, bendable/roll-able plastic, etc.) legal and approved for use in Ontario?


As soon as we receive additional information or official confirmation we will be in touch.



Reminder | Retail Stores, Driving Ranges Permitted to Open

A reminder that as of May 19th (today), all Driving Ranges (outdoor and indoor) can now be opened in Ontario, and retail outlets (including pro shops) with street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing are permitted to be open. Click here to read the complete list of businesses that are currently permitted to be open under Phase 1 of the Reopening Ontario Plan.

UPDATE on Power Cart Rule: May 25, 2020


Today we have received the following great news on power cart rules for golf operations across the province.


Q: Are CART DIVIDERS permitted to allow TWO golfers to share ONE power cart?




The directive the NGCOA received today from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) confirmed that golf courses are now able to install cart dividers into their power carts to allow 2 golfers (who do not live at the same location) to share a power cart.


There are many different options available in the marketplace, but you must be sure that the cart divider is structurally sound, properly attached to the cart, and does not impede the driver’s vision while providing enough coverage to clearly separate the 2 golfers from touching during the round.


NOTE: WSPS has noted that due to volume of requests that they are currently receiving, they are unable to change every existing document but have verbally confirmed the above information to the NGCOA Canada while directing us to use other industries Health & Safety verbiage. In the case of golf cart dividers, WSPS has directed us to use the guidance on Health and Safety for Drivers and Truck Drivers During COVID-19 protocols which states: If it is necessary to transport passengers, consider installing transparent physical barrier(s) that does not impede field of vision between driver and any passengers.


Q: Can golfers have TWO golf bags on ONE power cart?




Workplace Safety & Prevention Services has also confirmed that golf courses are now able to allow 2 golfers to have both golf bags on 1 power cart as long as only 1 golfer actually drives the cart during the entire round. Golfers must use the Physical Distancing Rule (always remain 6-feet apart from your playing partner) and not touch each other’s playing equipment. Golfers must be made aware to not reach for clubs at the same time if they are both hitting a shot from the same area.


Although we have received confirmation from WSPS that the above exceptions are allowed, the updated and official government guidance calls out that courses should “Limit golf cart use to 1 cart per golfer with the exception of those golfers who reside in the same household; and consider providing sanitizing wipes for customers. NOTE: Riders on the same cart must be able to prove they live in the same household. 





The Ontario Government announced today that as of Friday, June 12th, social gathering limits will be expanded to up to 10 people regardless of whether a region has moved to stage 2 or not. Premier Ford also outlined the new guidelines for businesses and the list of Public Health Units permitted to enter stage 2 this coming Friday, June 12:
•    Algoma Public Health
•    Brant County Health Unit
•    Chatham-Kent Public Health
•    Eastern Ontario Health Unit
•    Grey Bruce Health Unit
•    Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
•    Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
•    Huron Perth Public Health
•    Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
•    Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
•    Middlesex-London Health Unit
•    North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
    •    Northwestern Health Unit
•    Ottawa Public Health
•    Peterborough Public Health
•    Porcupine Health Unit
•    Public Health Sudbury & Districts
•    Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
•    Renfrew County and District Health Unit
•    Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
•    Southwestern Public Health
•    Thunder Bay District Health Unit
•    Timiskaming Health Unit
•    Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

As of June 19, 2020, the following Public Health Units will be permitted to move to Stage 2.

•    Durham Region Health Department
•    Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
•    Halton Region Health Department
•    Hamilton Region Health Department
•    Lambton Health Unit
•    Niagara Region Public Health Department
•    York Region Public Health Services

Public health unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 as of Wednesday, June 24 include:

•    Peel Public Health
•    Toronto Public Health

According to Stage 2 re-opening guidelines, group lessons can increase to 10 participants (inclusive of instructor) on Friday, June 12, 2020.

To view Stage 2 guidelines, please click here. NB: Stage 2 encompasses a REGIONAL approach to re-openings; It is critical to understand whether your operations remain in Stage 1 or will be permitted to enter into Stage 2. Please read this document carefully and ensure that rules around physical distancing are respected at all times.



We will continue to seek answers to your questions and provide updates to all. As you may encounter new challenges or questions you are unsure of, we encourage you to contact our team so that we may support all members through this process.


Wishing you the very best with your operations!