Golf to Resume in Scotland From May 29
Since March 23, the iconic courses of the Home of Golf have lain dormant, but two months on, the ancient game has finally been given the green light to resume in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had outlined the Scottish Government's phased route from lockdown, beginning next week, part of which saw a relaxation on physical activities, golf included among them.
Later on Thursday, Scottish Golf confirmed in a statement: "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.
"Scottish Golf has worked with Scottish Government, Active Scotland, sportscotland, Health Protection Scotland, The PGA and key industry partners at every opportunity to produce a clear guide for all golf clubs and golfers in Scotland.
"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."
This will be welcome news for Scottish golfers who have already seen play return in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but just how will Holyrood's phased approach to easing restrictions affect the game?
Revealing its guidance, Scottish Golf has introduced a document for clubs and golfers themselves to consume, which you can download in full here.
Within that, the key points are that players from separate households can make up a two-ball, with groups of four permitted at the discretion of the venue, assuming that no more than two households are represented in that four-ball. Individuals can also play alone, but tee-times should be managed and booked in advance, a measure in line with what has been done elsewhere.
However, under current government information, travel restrictions remain in place, meaning that golfers can only travel to a local course should it be within a rough five-mile radius of their home, something that will limit player access, particularly at more rural venues. There has been no distinction outlined regarding members and non-members, again leaving it at the discretion of the club.
The now much publicised social distancing requirements presented by The R&A, not touching the flag, staying two metres away from others, etc, are naturally in place, while clubhouses and facilities shall remain closed under this initial phase. Golf courses will have to be prepared with appropriate signage and protocols in place, ensuring confidence and safety for both staff and players.
So, golf is about to imminently return in Scotland, but not quite as we knew it before this crisis. However, for those golfers who live near a course and can secure tee times, this will be the most joyous of returns as they seek to take advantage of the mental and physical health benefits that the game provides.
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