This club’s novel approach to allowing players to touch the flagstick


Haydock Park have found a way of letting players remove the pole and stay safe from coronavirus

It’s been the one issue that’s split golfers right down the middle during these times of coronavirus.

While some have no problems putting with the flagstick in the hole, others hate it – longing for the time restrictions are eased and they can safely remove the troublesome poles once more.

The game’s governing bodies, as part of their Covid-19 guidelines, have strongly recommended that flagsticks are not to be touched.

But Haydock Park found a novel way of removing it just in time for one of their flagship events: Captain’s Weekend.

Stephen Nicholson, the club’s business manager, explains: “One of the committee asked about the potential to have the flagsticks removed in time for Captain’s Weekend, this being to help mitigate ‘bounce outs’ that have been occurring due to the hole lifters we’d recently installed.

“We maintained that if we could do this in a safe and practical way then we’d consider. After contact with England Golf, it was deemed that we could indeed look to progress with a policy that enabled flagstick removal so long as the risk was covered and mitigated as much as practically possible.

“The committee signed off a move to create sanitiser stations next to each green, with a hook to allow the flagstick to be rested on whilst players took their shots and then replaced the flagstick after they had finished.

Haydock Park

“We recommend that each group designate one member to remove the flag if they feel this is appropriate and they should do so with a gloved hand.

“There is a bottle of hand sanitiser affixed to each station so players can cleanse their hands both prior to and after dealing with the flagstick.”

Haydock Park’s solution went down so well with members that the club opted to carry on doing it and it’s now been operating for a couple of weeks.

“With restrictions easing and the guidance relying very much on a common sense approach, we decided that because the event a couple of weeks ago went so well we’d incorporate this into our daily course set up and give the player the opportunity to remove the flagstick if they so wish,” Nicholson added.

“However, those that continue to be wary during this time can still putt with the flagstick in and use the golf ball hole lifters as they have been doing.”

What do you think of Haydock Park’s solution? Would you like your club to follow suit? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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