Some golf courses were very busy this weekend, Some pro shops have closed; Quotes from golf club managers; COVID-19 latest

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 23, 2020 15:40

Some pro shops at golf clubs closed down this weekend as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

While at the time of them doing so there was no legal imperative to close – UK golf clubs must close down bars and restaurants – many have decided to shut their doors for the foreseeable future in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19.

For example, Gordon Stewart, the PGA professional at Cawder Golf Club in Glasgow announced: ‘Pro Shop CLOSED – An extremely hard decision but one that I feel in the interest of public safety, my staff, my members, my customers and my family, is the correct decision as we follow the government’s advice to stay at home. #StaySafe #BeBackStronger #WhenTheTimeIsRight’.

Other clubs posted similar messages. Several also stated that, until the government states otherwise they will remain open, but urged customers to, for example, distance themselves from other customers and staff at all times and to not pay by cash.

Meanwhile, Jason Leitch, the Scottish government’s national clinical director, has said that people can play golf for now. “No 19th hole though,” was his proviso, while also adding that golfers must socially distance and follow the two metre rule as well as being mindful about everything they touch.

According to The Times, golf courses in Edinburgh were very busy this weekend.

‘If a snap survey of clubs in Edinburgh is anything to go by, people are just glad to have identified one sport in which it is possible to continue playing, without ignoring the government’s coronavirus safety guidelines,’ it states.

‘By all accounts, they were flooding on to the capital’s courses over the weekend: members, visitors, people with no work to go to, even the over-70s who are supposed to be society’s most vulnerable.

‘While the golf goes on, clubhouses are shutting all over the country. Baberton, Craigmillar Park, Bruntsfield Links, Mortonhall and Ravelston are among those who took that decision before the government more or less made it for them by demanding that all bar and catering facilities should be suspended.

‘At the moment, golf is relatively fortunate in that most courses remain open for play. But what if that changes? What if there is a complete lockdown and they are required, like many in Europe, to shut down the whole operation? That has already happened to council tracks in Edinburgh, a step that has jeopardised the future of several small clubs that play on them.

‘Many were out on the municipal courses yesterday, enjoying a free game in the sunshine, but the idyllic scene disguises a worrying time for club managers, who are uncertain about the months ahead. Some have already received their yearly subscriptions, but others are not so fortunate. Duddingston, for example, have no idea how many memberships will be renewed ahead of this season, never mind how likely they are to replace them with new ones.

‘In the circumstances, there is little option but to get creative. Mortonhall are offering discounted green fees. Prestonfield can be played for free until the end of the month. At Baberton, in Juniper Green, they are redeploying clubhouse staff to duties elsewhere, providing takeaway food and asking taxi-driving members to deliver it.’

Quotes from the weekend:

“If there is a complete shutdown, it changes the perspective again. Golf has struggled in the last five to ten years, but running into something like this is going to be very, very difficult. Some clubs are really going to struggle. I just hope we don’t see too many go out of business.” Baberton Golf Club manager Keith Nicholson.

“If the clubhouse remains closed for let’s say the next four months, we would be looking at losing £50-60,000.” Ratho Park Golf Club secretary Robert Dobbie.

“The older ones seem to be surprised at the kerfuffle. They are just taking it on the chin. They are speaking to the bar staff and saying ‘is this stuff affecting you?’ And you’re thinking ‘well, clearly’. But they just carry on regardless. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, if you have been through a war…” Duncan Ireland, secretary of Duddingston Golf Club.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 23, 2020 15:40
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  1. Ian W March 24, 09:44

    A question. I meet you on the first tee of a golf club with normal conditions no coronavirus around. I say hello but don’t shake hands . I then explain that I could have a deadly virus, I’m not sure yet . I could become seriously ill in the next few days and possibly die. This virus is highly contagious and all of my family will be at risk if I get it. We should stay a distance apart and don’t touch anything I’ve touched because if I get it there’s a chance I’ve given it to you. If I have all your family is then quarantined and at risk. Still happy playing with me ? If you say yes you’re clearly in the group of people who believe they are untouchable.

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  2. Peter March 23, 17:33

    We make the tough decisions !!! Especially in times of crisis !!! Covid-19 is rapidly spreading and most won’t know they’re infected until they’ve infected others ! If your community ( most) can’t tell you their rate of spread and that numbers are on downslide, the virus is coming and will come fast and furious in waves. Golf courses that remain open will be one the causes ! Proving their elitist reputation again ! Association with others is not suggested. Children and parents are avoiding playdates and sleepovers ! Golfers are being greedy, showing a lack of empathy, compassion and common sense !!

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  3. Ignacio March 23, 11:37

    Interesante lectura para nuestras autoridades

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