A huge number of golf enthusiasts in the City of Edinburgh have effectively had their memberships suspended at clubs throughout East Lothian through the new Covid-19 rules.
They have been blocked from booking tee times due to Edinburgh remaining a Level 3 area as East Lothian moved to Level 2 on Tuesday, with Midlothian-based members in the same boat after it stayed at Level 3.
Government regulations prohibit travel without a reasonable excuse into or out of a Level 3 or 4 local authority area.
Exceptions include travelling to work and school and some exercise and sport are allowed, including golf, but it must take place five miles from the boundary of your local authority area and fines can be issued for unlawful travel.
That has placed the East Lothian courses beyond the permitted travel distance for Edinburgh and Midlothian golfers, leaving some of them looking at options closer to home to keep them ticking over.
“We have certainly had a few more bookings than normal made over the internet,” reported Duncan Ireland, the club secretary at Duddingston. “We’re not able to tell from them if it’s because of the travel restrictions, but I’d guess it might be connected.
“We have certainly had a few people enquiring about temporary memberships here because of the travel restrictions, though. They are available, though we would only consider them for a minimum of 2-3 months.”
Mike Robson, the secretary/club manager at Swanston, said it had been a similar story there as keen local golfers explored ways of trying to keep playing.
“I’ve had a few enquiries for temporary memberships, including one from a member of an East Lothian course and the other a member at West Linton (which is in the Borders, a Level 2 area),” he said.
“They are all only looking to be able to get out and hit a ball, so, in these strange times when all golf clubs should try and help each other, we are allowing them unlimited access to our Templar Course (where a round takes less than an hour).
“Depending on how much they use the offer, I have suggested they make a small donation of up to £25 in total when they can get back to their own course which will go towards our junior section.
“We will also be happy to allow anyone affected by the travel ban a round on the 18 hole course, if times are available. Bookings can only be made 48 hours in advance - the cost will be the same as a member's guest.”At the other end of the city bypass, a new membership offer is attracting interest at Broomieknowe, home of top-ranked Scottish women’s amateur Hannah Darling.
“We have not experienced a rise in bookings or requests for temporary membership, but we have advertised a 16 months for the price of 12 membership and have had a good response to date considering it was only circulated last Friday,” said club secretary Kevin Armitage.