At Monday's daily Covid-19 briefing, Northern Ireland's First Minister, Arlene Foster, announced that some "outdoor activity where social distancing can occur" could now proceed. She went on to confirm that golf would be one of the few outdoor activities allowed to restart, adding:
"I know that Golf clubs will be relieved that players will be returning to their fairways"
The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) & Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) had already published a "Protocol for the Re-introduction of Golf in Northern Ireland" at the weekend. Northern Ireland's First Minister urged everyone to stick to those guidelines.
The GUI & ILGU also stressed in their introduction to the Protocol:
"As one of the first sports to be allowed to resume, there is a major responsibility on golf clubs and golfers to ensure that our sport is conducted in a safe and responsible manner. Full adherence to the provisions of this Protocol is absolutely essential."
"It should be noted that the Executive continues to monitor the situation closely and have not ruled out the reintroduction of restrictions which could see golf clubs closed once again, if the Protocol is not followed."
Some confusion surrounded the First Minister's announcement as she had not confirmed a date for when golf could restart. In the end, it fell to the Golfing Union of Ireland to clarify that golf clubs in Northern Ireland would be able to reopen their courses from Wednesday 20 May.
Last week golf clubs in England were allowed to reopen their courses. This week golf clubs in Wales, the Republic of Ireland and now Northern Ireland are allowed to open theirs. It means that Scotland is now the only country in Great Britain and Ireland where golf courses must remain closed.