Coronavirus: Scottish golfers ignore lockdown guidelines

Some Scottish golfers ignored the government's lockdown guidelines by sneaking on to courses over the weekend.
This golfer ignored the lockdown guidelines by playing at Carrick Knowe, one of the municipal courses in Edinburgh on Sunday.This golfer ignored the lockdown guidelines by playing at Carrick Knowe, one of the municipal courses in Edinburgh on Sunday.
This golfer ignored the lockdown guidelines by playing at Carrick Knowe, one of the municipal courses in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Most venues in the home of golf lay deserted in the first weekend since closing en masse for the first time since the Second World War due to the coronavrius crisis.

But, ignoring both government and Scottish Golf advice, golfers were spotted out playing on some courses.

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One person was photographed playing on Sunday at Carrick Knowe, one Edinburgh Leisure's courses and among the first in the country to be closed due to the pandemic.

It is also believed that quite a few were also out playing at Craigentinny, another of the municipal courses in the Capital.

Elsewhere in Edinburgh, two people were also 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 etc and intended to use it......

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

"Clearly the safety 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.

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"I have had a discussion with Police Scotland this morning 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, which is based at the Capital course.

"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 recons 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."

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All the courses in Scotland closed almost immediately after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plea to the nation last Monday night to "stay at home".

While it was felt the Government had been sending out mixed messages about whether or not golf was still permitted as a form of "daily exercise", that was subsequently clairified.

"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."

Over the weekend, police in Scotland issued 25 fixed penalty notices under new powers to enforce coronavirus guidelines.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland today that most people were following the rules after the first weekend in lockdown.

Yesterday, one more person died from the coronavirus in Scotland, raising the toll to 41.

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.

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“The new measures announced by the Government are quite clear and state that you may only leave home for the following:

* to go to work (if you are a key worker)

* to infrequently shop for groceries, medicine and other essentials

* to exercise outside once a day but this does not extend to golf

* to provide care or help a vulnerable person

“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.”

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