Some golfers are ignoring guidelines and playing golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 31, 2020 12:02

There are reports from across the country that some people are ignoring the guidelines not to play golf during the COVID-19 lockdown – and are even being abusive if asked to stop playing.

For example, according to Echo News, Essex councillor Stephen Aylen says he has seen about 20 people playing golf at the Belfairs Golf Club.The course is officially closed, with all flags removed from holes and there are no staff on site.

England Golf, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf have also all asked golfers to not play during the lockdown.

Aylen said: “I have tried to tell them they shouldn’t be playing and they always just start shouting, saying they are only playing a few holes and what harm could it do?“Even though I try to talk to them from a distance, I do sometimes fear for my safety. I have a duty of care to protect residents.

“Every day there is people there, probably around 20 a day trying to play.

“All the flags are removed but they are still just coming along.”

He said he has considered calling the police over the situation as they now have the power to hand fixed penalty notices to people who go out for non-essential reasons, but he believes they are already overloaded.

“I think people just do not understand how serious this is. They just don’t get it.

“There is an attitude of I am going to do what I like anyway, who do you think you are telling me what to do.

“It is terrible to think, but until someone near to a lot of these people dies from this, until it happens to them, they won’t do anything.”

According to The Scotsman, one person was photographed playing on Sunday at Carrick Knowe and it is believed that quite a few were also out playing at Craigentinny.

Elsewhere in Edinburgh, two people were spotted by a walker playing at Craigmillar Park, a private members’ club.

“It is disappointing and frustrating to learn that some individuals are taking advantage of the current situation where all golf courses are closed to access golf courses, including Craigmillar Park, and play golf,” said captain Gary Laing.

“Two individuals were seen doing so at Craigmillar Park on Sunday. I am confident these individuals were not members of the club as they were noticed by two members of the club who were out walking on the course taking exercise and both members did not recognise them.

“One of our members challenged the individuals and advised them they should not be playing golf. Whilst quite rude, the two individuals dismissed the fact that the course is closed and insisted on their intention to continue playing, despite being reminded of the government guidance. One commented that he had spent £1800 on equipment and intended to use it.

“It is disturbing that, even when challenged, the individuals showed no intention to cease playing golf.

“Clearly the safety of our members is paramount and, if situations like this increase, I may have to consider offering guidance to our members on how to safely challenge individuals who are not members and are playing the course when it is closed.

“I have had a discussion with Police Scotland and they have confirmed that instances where golfers are playing golf on a golf course contravenes the guidance issued on social distancing and approved exercise types.

“That being the case, I asked if they would attend the course and take appropriate action if notified.”

The appearance of people out playing at Carrick Knowe was blasted by John Pow, secretary of Carrickvale Golf Club.

“I was down around 6pm on Sunday and saw a guy on his own playing from medal tees and also a couple playing. Neither were members,” he said.

“I heard from a mate who was walking his dog round Craigentinny and he reckons there were at least 30 playing there.”

Pow added: “We don’t have flags out, but course looks as if it’s being maintained.

“We told our members not to play, pointing out they are not insured if they hadn’t paid to get on and there’s a huge amount of public walking the course. I saw families, dog walkers, even kids and families on bikes.

“I am obviously not happy seeing folk playing and hope members are not going out. I would urge them to stay home and wait until we can all get back playing.”

“We have taken the government advice, and it has been made very clear that golf is not to be played,” said Scottish Golf CEO Andrew McKinlay.

“The quicker people adhere to those instructions, hopefully the sooner we will get back out at the other end and enjoy playing a round of golf soon, which we all fundamentally want here.”

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “It’s so disappointing that some selfish people think that there’s one rule for them and one rule for everyone else and are flouting the government’s advice and continuing to play golf. Edinburgh Leisure’s courses remain closed.

“While golf is an outdoor sport that allows players to exercise in the fresh air, the message to all of us is clear, we must stay home and play our part in containing the spread of COVID-19; and thus we implore people to refrain from playing golf on our courses.

“We know that these decisions are difficult, especially as the weather has picked up, but it is our shared responsibility to prioritise the health of our local communities by working together to follow the guidelines. In doing so, this will ensure that golfers will get the opportunity to play the game that they love as soon as it is safe to do so.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 31, 2020 12:02
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  1. Sean M April 4, 10:09

    Perhaps the middle ground is to only allow 1 balls to play

    Reply to this comment
  2. Charles D April 2, 10:53

    Yes, with social distancing. Stay healthy. Both mentally and physically.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Carl B April 2, 10:51

    No I’m a golfer but what makes us so special? We are being asked to self isolate to save lives!

    Reply to this comment
  4. JK April 1, 13:52

    I really dont see any problem with someone playing golf alone. Its like taking a walk. If flags are removed i don’t see any other way how you can pass the virus playing alone.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Sean M April 1, 12:26

    So I have a genuine question on this: If they are members and they do not go into the the club house or the pro shop, they observe social distancing on the tee and the greens (and lets face it, social distancing is part of playing on the fairway as I’ve never hit a ball within 50 yards of another player). They are getting their daily exercise (as approved by the government), then why would golf be prohibited?

    The man in the picture has no chance of catching COVID-19. There’s no one else in sight. He’d be more in danger of catching it if he went our running in the streets or parks

    Reply to this comment
    • Keith April 1, 17:27

      I agree with most of what you say and I can’t wait to get back out there and start playing again I think one of the big problems is though with so many people not working at the moment the courses would be flooded with golfers and how are you going to keep people apart from one another

      Reply to this comment
      • Standby April 1, 19:33

        If the clubs police it and only only people to play in pairs to strict T times and the 2 mtr gap is maintained then you have more chance of contracting covid19 getting your shopping or going on public transport or going to work in a food factory !! Yes people travelling to work together from different households !!!

        Reply to this comment
  6. Neil C April 1, 11:22

    If they are members kick them out of the club and refund any subs owed. If they are visitors and not paid a green fee they are trespassing and call the police. Harsh but controls are needed and abuse is never acceptable

    Reply to this comment
  7. Tim April 1, 10:33

    What is the insessant media drive to find scandal , you do realise if Piers Morgan gets hold of this it will be shouted from the roof tops, thus jeopordising any possible early lifting of course closures. Thus affecting law abiding golf clubs and golfers alike.

    Why shine a torch on the faults of the few just to keep the majority in the shadows ..

    Reply to this comment
  8. Vitor April 1, 10:30

    Same here in Portugal!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Ivan S March 31, 18:49

    Even if one believes in the efficacy of a lockdown banning golf is totally over the top as anyone with two brain cells can well appreciate. If one is allowed inside Tesco in close proximity to staff – none of whom are issued with masks – one should be allowed in the open air exercising an extremely safe distance from other players! We live in a maternalistic over-the-top ‘mummy knows best’ society which cries out for reversing. Golf clubs go out of the way these days to unreasonably close courses so that staff do not have to work. It started with closures during frosty weather and now – joy upon joy – they have latched onto COVID-19 like a limpet to a rock.

    Reply to this comment
    • Andrew Smith April 1, 10:33

      Most golf courses would do everything they can to keep their courses open as much as possible. But when faced with weather that makes the course unplayable,dangerous or would do more harm to the course it will shut.
      With Covid19 yes a golf course would be a safe environment for players going round by themselves, but travel restrictions mean that they aren’t allowed out and even if they were they would flout social distancing as soon as they were out of sight. The rules put in place by the government might even save your life, so get over it and behave like the vast majority so that life can go back to normal sooner rather than later.

      Reply to this comment
    • Edk April 1, 17:28

      What a selfish attitude if we all think this way we will never get back to normality. I love playing and would love to be able to at the present time. However we are in a war with an enemy we can’t see, and if we don’t all play our part in stopping the spread of this virus it’ll be long time before we’re playing golf properly again.

      Reply to this comment
    • Robert April 4, 10:11

      Not the best advert on your own professional profile if I might say. Full of assumptions and generalisations. May be best to at the moment unless you have anything helpful and constructive to say. Have a great weekend

      Reply to this comment
  10. Sean March 31, 18:27

    I told a fourball that course was closed by me yesterday, just got a mouthful of abuse

    Reply to this comment
  11. Peter March 31, 17:43

    This is sad ! It is also, heavy-hearted, thoughtless and insensitive !! Here in Arizona, our Governor has listed courses as essential businesses along with hair stylists !!! He is pandering to social elites, operators and influencers ! It will end up costing lives !!! We must know and have a solid grasp of our values and priorities and those of the organizations we run ! Sadly far too many don’t !!! Be well, stay well Alistair and Thank-you !!

    Reply to this comment
    • Viney April 1, 16:30

      You can say it’s OK to play golf on your own or to keep social distancing but as soon as you say it’s alright the courses will be packed, after the weather we’ve had everybodys desperate to get out.

      Reply to this comment
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