Scottish golf clubs ‘can prepare for a return to golf on May 29’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 21, 2020 19:24

Scottish golf clubs look set to be able to reopen for golf from Friday, May 29, following the publication of the Scottish government’s ‘road map’ on how the lockdown will be eased.

Golfers will be asked to only travel a maximum of about five miles to play at the venues – due to high demand most will probably be members of the club they are hoping to play at, and golfing groups of up to four will be allowed but only from a maximum of up to two different households.

A statement from Scottish Golf reads: ‘Following today’s announcement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Golf is pleased to confirm that golf clubs in Scotland can begin to prepare for a return to golf on 29 May 2020 at the earliest, subject to final confirmation by the first minister by way of an update currently planned for 28 May.

‘It should be noted that a final decision will be made by the First Minister on 28 May and if any changes to the current procedures are required to align with updates provided by Scottish government then these will be shared with you as soon as they are known to ensure re-opening plans can be updated or adjusted accordingly.’

At a briefing on May 21, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that golf will be allowed in Scotland’s first phase of the easing of lockdown restrictions, which start on May 28.

In a Scottish government guidance also released on May 21 it states you are ‘permitted to travel short distances for outdoor exercise but to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within five miles).’

This suggests that members of Scottish golf clubs should travel no more than about five miles to play at their courses when restrictions are eased.  In the Republic of Ireland the limit is currently 5km and in Wales golfers are asked to only play at venues ‘local’ to them.

Once golf has resumed, the following groupings will be permitted to play golf in Scotland:

  • Two-balls – may be from two households whilst maintaining physical distancing.
  • Groups up to four players permitted at the discretion of the golf club (ensuring that only two households are represented in the group).

‘Scottish Golf would like to highlight that the Scottish government continues to monitor its response to the COVID-19 outbreak closely and have not ruled out the re-introduction of restrictions which could see golf paused again if these guidelines are not being followed,’ adds the statement.

‘It is therefore imperative that golf clubs take the necessary steps outlined prior to opening their courses for play and adhere to the guidelines detailed in our guide.’

Several golf clubs in Scotland have said they are ready to reopen.

Keith Hunter, vice president of Kingussie Golf Club, said: “Our committee has fully discussed Covid-19 precautions for when we return to some kind of normality, taking our lead from both Scottish Golf and the Scottish government.

“These precautions will be easily implemented on the course, but it will be the times just before teeing off and after finishing the round that will be more tricky as golfers like to congregate and chat.

“We will have to trust our members to observe social distancing at these times, as well as on the course.

“We have two greenkeepers still working and the course is looking immaculate.

“We will have to juggle our fixture list a bit to make sure the more important club trophies are played for.”

Boat of Garten Golf Club secretary Gordon Hay said their members have been very supportive and more than 90 per cent have now paid their annual subscriptions despite not being able to play this spring.

He said: “This will allow members to feel that they are getting something for their money.

“No date has been given yet for competitive golf to be played and many clubs like ours will need to re-arrange their fixture card to catch up on the more important club competitions which have already been missed this year.

“Open competitions which bring a great number of visitors to the area and provide clubs with good green fee income will continue to be cancelled until clubhouses are allowed to open.

“Like other clubs Boat Of Garten has been preparing for the re-opening of our course to members and careful consideration has been given to the steps necessary to comply with social distancing regulations.

“To date we have furloughed two greenkeepers with just one being left to maintain the course.

“We are very grateful to our head greenkeeper Michael Mann for the tremendous effort he has put in keeping our course at or very close to the high standard our members have become accustomed to.

Heather Bantick, Abernethy Golf Club secretary, said: “Our biggest hardship has been the frustration of not being allowed to play golf on our own or with our household as one of the permitted exercises.

“Financially, we know we are going to have a big deficit this year because our greenkeeper has continued to work full time, a lot of members are struggling financially and we have no visitor income.

“Because we have kept the greenkeeper working, the course is in great condition and we are as ready as we can be to start playing again.

“We have removed all shared course furniture like rakes, flags, ball washers, benches and so on. There are hand sanitisers in place and notices will indicate what members should do.”

She added: “Initially, we assume that we will be restricted to members but hope that we will soon have visitors even if restricted to those from Highland region.

“We have not yet cancelled our Opens towards the end of the season but we will be following Scottish Golf guidance in all that we do.”

A Q&A for Scottish golf clubs looking for Covid-19 guidance can be found here.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 21, 2020 19:24
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1 Comment

  1. Hendo May 24, 16:55

    Can golfers play at another club

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