Golf courses can remain open in Scotland – but must close in England

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 4, 2021 20:30

Golf courses in Scotland can remain open – with two-ball restrictions – as the country enters a new lockdown, but English golf clubs must close for its new lockdown.

Everyone in England must stay at home except for permitted reasons during a new coronavirus lockdown, Boris Johnson has announced.

In a televised address, the prime minister urged people to follow the rules immediately amid surging cases and patient numbers.

This means that “outdoor sports venues – such as golf courses, tennis courts and outside gyms – must close,” said a spokesman.

“Amateur team sports are not allowed, but elite sport such as Premier League football can continue.”

In a statement, England Golf said: “Golf clubs, golf facilities – both indoor and outdoor – and driving ranges will be required to close during this full lockdown. As such, coaching will not be permitted.

“Golf retailers will be able to operate a click-and-collect service where goods are pre-ordered and either collected off the premises or delivered.

“England Golf  – as part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf along with other leading industry bodies – is extremely disappointed with the news, having made a strong case in recent months to keep golf open during the national lockdowns and in the regional tier system.

“It is with great regret that we share this news with you, but please be assured that we will continue to make the case for golf to reopen whenever possible.”

The news about golf course closures in England was detailed to the media as soon as Boris Johnson delivered his address to the nation.


Richard Haygarth, chairman of the UK Golf Federation, added: “This was a hammer blow to the golf industry and the golfers it serves.

“Since golf reopened in May the industry has shown that it can operate safely. The mental and physical health benefits of golf are widely accepted and during the current lockdown people can walk and cycle with one other person on a golf course but not play golf.

“The Scottish government has recognised this and we call on Downing Street to change its lockdown policy on golf in England and help the three million-plus golfers to get through what looks like being a very difficult winter, particularly regarding mental health.”

The prime minister urged the public to follow the new rules from midnight tonight – with MPs given a vote to approve them retrospectively on Wednesday.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, ordered the country to stay at home amid a fresh Covid-19 lockdown from midnight in a bid to contain the new, faster-spreading strain of the virus.

Outdoor gatherings are to be cut back, with people only allowed to meet one person from one other household, and group exercise banned, until at least the end of January.

However, Scottish Golf has stated: “Golf courses can remain open for play with a maximum of two players from up to two households.

“Golfers must stay close to home, travel only for essential purposes and in line with the new legislation.”

This follows the announcement about English golf clubs in Tier 4 last month – in which two-ball golf was allowed, including even if the golfers are not from the same household.

The statement led to the Scottish Golf website crashing.

The exemptions for golf in Tier 4 came about after the UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, was presented with a paper that stated that golf can be played safely in line with Covid-restrictions.

The amateur game remains banned in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 4, 2021 20:30
Write a comment


  1. Justin January 6, 12:05

    It makes absolutely perfect sense to allow golf, tennis, amongst various other sports to be played. As long regulations are followed I don’t believe you would find a safer & healthier environment. Following the regulations of several countries, it is clear that some countries have not put much thought into this. Enforcement of regulations is essential in such situations. Stay Healthy, Eat Healthy, Stay Safe! hashtag#coronavirus hashtag#healthyliving hashtag#COVID-19

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ian S January 6, 11:33

    I’m sure JT at England Golf will be pulling out all the Stops to enable the courses to be open within a 2 week window.
    By that time 75% of our members at TPGC
    Midweek members that is will hopefully have received their Immunisation jab.
    There a Hardy lot anyway ❤️

    Reply to this comment
  3. CJ January 6, 09:09

    Golf is safer than going for a walk ,getting exersise from golf for older players would make them stronger to battle covid .has Boris Johnson ever been on a golf course?.

    Reply to this comment
  4. djm January 5, 21:28

    A stark demonstration as to the complete uselessness of the not-fit-for-purpose Quango that is England Golf.

    Still I expect this current furlough will enable their members to get fitted for their new blazers.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Morton January 5, 20:18

    Gutted that clubs are shut in England when your in the open air a good 200Mtrs away from next group depending on fairway, you could even wear a mask while playing. In Scotland they understand this but here no idea. very testing time for peoples mental state.

    Reply to this comment
  6. djm January 5, 12:17

    Does anybody still think this is about a virus ?

    Reply to this comment
  7. Newent Golf Club and Lodges January 5, 11:54

    This is for Boris Johnson, Nigel Huddleston the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of state for Sport, Tourism and Heritage and to our local MP Mark Harper and to every other local MP.

    Please explain to me why golf courses have to close? This is to show you why golf courses shouldn’t close, what should be changed to make golf courses EVEN safer and also to show you how golf differs from swimming and tennis, these were bulked together into the same sentence on the lockdown ‘what you can and can’t do section.’

    Firstly let’s look at how golf could be made EVEN safer. Make it that only 2 people can play golf together even if they’re from the same household, this means we won’t get some groups lying and saying they’re from the same household so they can play as a 4. Make all parts of the clubhouse close, don’t allow take away food or drink as this encourages ‘hanging around.’ Just leave clubhouses open for payment of golf or the toilets. Our changing room has already been blocked off, golfers change their shoes in their car. We already have a 1 person inside at a time limit in our clubhouse, far far less than at a supermarket or ‘THE RANGE OR A GARDEN CENTRE!’ We also have a full screen over the payment hatch, much safer than at a supermarket where aerosols could get over, under or around their screens. We could even take contactless payment for their round of golf through the window glass so we could completely close the clubhouse and toilets.

    When Boris announced this lockdown I rang our golfers who had tee times booked for the next day. One said to this to me. Why can I drive locally to go for a walk up the Malvern Hills with my friend John from down the road and stay 2 metres apart but I can’t play golf with him when we’re always far more than 2 metres apart and on the tee we’ll stay 2 metres apart.

    GP’s are now being urged to prescribe golf to their patients. Pilot schemes found it boosted levels of fitness, muscle strength, happiness and mental health. We have an 100 year old woman who plays golf here, she can go to the supermarket and touch things other people have touched but she can’t spend her 100th year doing the thing she loves which keeps her healthy and which is safe.

    In tennis they share a ball, it CANNOT be played like golf can. In swimming you share the same water, the same handles to get into the pool but also you HAVE to use changing rooms.

    Golf courses have already made changes so golfers do not have to touch the flags, cups of the holes and bunker rakes. You can come to a golf course and literally not touch a single thing anyone else has touched.

    Currently you can go for a walk with someone ON A GOLF COURSE if it is common land but you cannot put a bag with clubs on your back at the same time.

    Golf courses in Scotland are open, Scotland have been stricter on their rules in the past but not on this?! Surely that says something, it’s madness England’s golf courses have to close.

    I’m not suggesting something which is risking lives, I’m suggesting something which is safer than a lot of the other things which are permitted.

    I could go on that golf courses should be given a lifeline because subs are due and golf courses will struggle terribly without their income but actually that’s not what this is all about. It’s about COMMON SENSE! It’s in the open air without shared touch of anything and probably even safer than just going for a walk with someone!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Phil D January 5, 11:00

    Under Scotland new rules. Do we know if pro shops can open or will it be click collect only or closed

    Reply to this comment
  9. PBentham January 4, 23:01

    It’s either safe or it’s not. I give up! Why do they not understand that mixed messages cause doubt and non compliance

    Reply to this comment
    • Tug January 5, 11:43

      It’s because they don’t have the answers. They don’t know, nobody does.

      Reply to this comment
      • Arnold Palmer-Invitation January 23, 10:01

        It is simply not safe to play golf during a pandemic because golfers always hug and kiss after every putt is holed, much like footballers do after scoring a goal. therefore golf courses must remain closed until the entire world has been vaccinated. Even then, everyone needs to quarantine for a further 2 years to ensure immunity has kicked in.

        Reply to this comment
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