Driving range owner in Scotland ‘nervous’ about facility reopening

Kingsfield Golf Centre will operate one-way system

Kingsfield has a mixture of outdoor and indoor bays
Kingsfield has a mixture of outdoor and indoor bays

The owner of a driving range in Scotland has said he is “more nervous than excited” about reopening the facility at the same time as courses around the country.

Under Scottish Golf’s guidelines for the sport returning, it is stated that only ranges that are fully outdoors can reopen and only providing that social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures are in place.

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Ranges that are either indoor or a combination of indoor and outdoor were initially not being permitted in phase one of the Scottish Government’s easing of lockdown restrictions.

However, it seems that has been relaxed for ranges where a one-way system can be in operation, as will be the case at Kingsfield Golf Centre on the outskirts of Linlithgow.

“I emailed Scottish Golf on Friday because I reckon that I can open the inside bays using a one-way system,” said owner Robert Arkley. “They’d come down the path and be allocated a bay and be given their golf balls. They wouldn’t have to come near the reception as it would be pre-paid.

“In fairness, Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer Karin Sharp was very good in dealing with my approach and she thought that would work.”

Arkley is planning to open the popular range on Friday at the same time as people get back out on the nine-hole course at the venue, but he will be monitoring the situation.

“I’m not going to lie as I am finding it more nervous than exciting, to be honest,” he added. “People are desperate to hit golf balls and a lot of people, of course, are still furloughed. It’s great to be close to having people back, but it’s small steps.”

In Aberdeen, the par-3 course at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre will be reopening if golf does indeed get the green light to return on Friday but the range is staying closed for the time being.

“Hopefully the driving range will open in a wee while,” said Lawrie, who is looking forward to getting back out on the par-3 course himself, pointing out that members of the facility have not been charged during its closure.

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Elsewhere, Drumoig Golf Centre owner Stuart Syme has intimated he plans to reopen on Friday with a one-way system in operation, but Stewart Whiteford at Wellsgreen Golf Centre between Leven and Kirkcaldy is biding his time.

“I hope there are a couple that open on Friday to test the water,” he said. “I just don’t want to be the guinea pig and have the police appear to tell us to close. I’m going to wait and see and we may open in some way next week.”

In Edinburgh, the Braid Hills Golf Centre is not reopening on Friday and neither is the St Andrews Links Golf Academy.

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