This time not a single study we highlight, but a series of studies in our journal that made progress through the COVID-19 pandemic. These studies describe a joint approach by academics, policymakers, and a professional sport (golf), towards safe participation. 


Tell us more about yourself and the author team

The author team comprises persons who work in public health policy, as academics, and clinicians as well as setting the strategic direction for various professional international golf organizations.



What is the story behind your study?

Travel and mass gatherings were significantly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a group, we worked with World Health Organization and various other sports, to assess risk, and put in place measures that could ensure the safe return of our professional sporting events. Our organizations have delivered >200 international mass gathering sporting events since the pandemic broke.

Each of our studies assessed the literature, put in place interventions and then studied what we had done before roll out at our events. We published a series of 5 papers with our friends at BMJ Open SEM, at each step in the way. We found the rigorous and excellent quality of review helped improve our published papers, but also our policies.

In your own words, what did you find?

We assessed golf, which is outdoors and socially distanced to be low risk compared to other sports. We put in place athlete zones/ bubbles, that controlled risk to very low levels.

  • Robinson PG, Murray A, Close G, Kinane DF. Assessing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in international professional golf. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 2021 Jun 1;7(2):e001109.

We put in place enhanced protocols that allowed close contacts to do their work as opposed to standard isolation as a pilot then followed this up with a full study- finding no increase in risk.

  • Robinson PG, Murray A, Sheer V, Close G, Kinane DF. Pilot evaluation of risk assessment and enhanced protocols regarding contacts at an international professional golf event. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 2021 Aug 1;7(3):e001127.
  • Robinson PG, Murray A, Watson M, Close G, Kinane DF. Risk assessment and implementation of risk reduction measures is not associated with increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2 compared with standard isolation at professional golf events. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2022 May 1;8(2):e001324.

We then introduced persons +ve for SARS-CoV-2 to the field of play, while remaining outside and socially distanced, again with no evidence of transmission where these protocols were followed

  • Robinson PG, Murray A, Close G, Glover D, Du Plessis WJ. Returning persons with SARS-CoV-2 to the field of play in professional golf: a risk assessment and risk reduction approach. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2022 May 1;8(2):e001347.



What was the main challenge you faced in your study?

The main challenge is that COVID regulations were different in each of the 34 countries we have been hosting tournaments in, and athletes were attending from all over the world. We had to liaise with each government and public health authority to establish and put in place consistent methods.


If there is one take-home message from your study, what would that be?

Collaboration between public health, and the academic and professional sports communities can help look to see what works and then implement a strategy. It was satisfying to see that our BMJ Open SEM research has informed and supported government policy in several countries that hosted our events.


List of Relevant Publications
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