Covid-19, Golf in Ireland, Cancellations, Deferrals …. Strange days indeed!
Who could have foreseen 3 months ago that The Masters would be deferred to November, (will the Magnolia’s still bloom?), the British Open .. hang on .. “The Open” would be cancelled outright, there’d be no hugging and kissing, and every single Pub in Ireland would be closed? Strange days indeed as Robert Zimmerman would say.
So where are things at in Ireland and what’s the story regarding 2020 Golf Tours?
Currently, as of today Easter Monday, every golf course in Ireland is closed. Ireland is in a pretty tight lockdown with strict social distancing measures in place. Travel is limited to a maximum of 2 kilometres (1.5 miles for the non-metric-sexuals out there), only essential work allowed, and over 70’s cocooning in their homes. This lockdown will be officially in place for another 3 weeks until May 6th,
What happens then? … Golf? The general expectation is that there will be a slow and gradual loosening of restrictions. What does that mean for golf? Hopefully for a start, it means we reset to right before the strict lockdown that is now in place. At that time, almost all golf courses were open, with policies in place to enforce social distancing quite rigorously. For example, club bars were usually closed, locker rooms restricted, numbers limited in pro shops etc. While playing golf, no rakes in bunkers – rake with your feet the old school way (or for some, no change because they never bothered raking anyway!), you leave the flag in while putting, many clubs had put little plastic inserts in holes so that the ball did not fall all the way down to the bottom of the cup, and winnings had to be collected electronically; not quite the same tactile satisfaction.
Golf Course Policies for Deferrals and Cancellations
In normal times, most of the top golf courses in Ireland that tourists are visiting have a strict non-refundable deposit policy. You paid your deposit, sometimes the full amount, and in the event of cancellation, you are out of pocket. That is why Real Irish Golf would always recommend our customers have good travel insurance in place in the event of needing to cancel their Ireland golf tour. It took a little time, but most of Ireland’s top golf courses recognized that these are not normal times. Therefore they adjusted their cancellation policies.
Deferrals: The general approach being taken is that all tee times booked in 2020 may be deferred through the end of 2021 without penalty. In some cases, for example, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, this policy covers bookings upto June 30th, with an update to be considered at that point dependent on situation at that point.
Cancellations: If a group cannot commit to deferring their Ireland tour to later 2020 or to 2021, the policy is very course dependent. For example, Ballybunion and Tralee are not offering any refunds. Royal Portrush and Royal County Down are refunding upto 75% of green fees booked before June 30th that need to be cancelled. The European Club are offering up to 90% refunds.
Please contact Real Irish Golf directly if you would like to have more specific information related to the courses you are scheduled to play.
Silver Linings: Many courses, eg, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, have opened their 2021 timesheets early, to allow for deferral of tee times from 2020 to 2021. So in the spirit of “this too will pass”, get your requests in early for your 2021 Tours to avoid missing out on these prized tee times.
Meantime … No golf, no pubs and dammit, no hurling, what’s a man to do? Lots of catching up on old major tournaments. The 1991 Masters anyone? Difficult to get the same ‘edge of couch’ feeling though when you know the ending. Maybe we’ll switch to some old PGA Championships, because lets face it, does anyone really remember who won the PGA?
Stay safe, stay healthy, and .. hopefully .. we can begin to get back on the links from May 6th!