GOLF courses have now been told to close following the tighter restrictions announced by the prime minister last night.

England Golf have this morning released a statement saying clubs, courses and facilities must now shut.

It read: "Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency."

Up to this morning, clubs across Oxfordshire had been taking measures in a bid to keep operating.

They had followed the advice from UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who when asked in a select committee hearing last week about whether golf could continue to be played, he replied: “We’re not asking everyone to be completely isolated. 

“The specific advice is to avoid close contact. A walk is OK if you keep a distance.”

Hinksey Heights first began introducing measures a fortnight ago.

They, like Frilford Heath, removed the flags and cut the holes in the middle of greens.

The number of rounds being played at Hinksey, where all bunkers were also taken out of play, was down on what would normally be expected.

But, speaking before last night’s announcement, director David Milne believed the sport could provide a valuable release for people.

He said: “The mental health side is important.

“We have tried to keep ahead of the advice. 

“Being a small club we can be quite nimble, because we don’t have to go through lots of committees.

“I think golf will be one of the last things that will go. ”

Other measures included encouraging golfers to play in pairs rather than groups of four, making it easier to remain more than the recommended two metres away from each other.

North Oxford were among the clubs to turn their cups upside down, removing the risk from an area of potential contamination.

Members have been kept up-to-date with the fast-moving situation via daily messages from general manager Philip Morley.

Oxford Golf Club yesterday announced the pro shop was closing “for the foreseeable future” due to the Covid-19 outreak.

They had already increased the gaps between groups teeing off from eight minutes to 12.
In a video message on Sunday night, head professional Joe Pepperell asked colleagues across the country for advice.

“Are we doing the right thing?” he said. “Should we be open at all?

“I certainly know the moral compass has been moving around in my head over the last couple of days.”