Fans to be in attendance at ASI Scottish Open in East Lothian

Limited number of spectators to be allowed at weekend for Rolex Series event
The European Tour has been staging events behind closed doors since the circuit came out of lockdown in July. Picture: Getty ImagesThe European Tour has been staging events behind closed doors since the circuit came out of lockdown in July. Picture: Getty Images
The European Tour has been staging events behind closed doors since the circuit came out of lockdown in July. Picture: Getty Images

Golf is to join rugby and football in staging crowd test events in Scotland after the European Tour announced that a limited number of spectators will be allowed at next month's Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

In a development that came out of the blue, it has been agreed that 650 spectators per day will be in attendance on the Saturday and Sunday of the Rolex Series event, which is taking place at the East Lothian venue on 1-4 October.

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It follows the Pro 14 rugby clash between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield last month being watched by a small number of fans at Murrayfield, as was the case for Aberdeen's game with Kilmarnock and Ross County's clash with Celtic in football's Scottish Premiership last weekend.

“We are very pleased to be able to welcome weekend spectators to the Renaissance Club this year, while abiding strictly by the European Tour health strategy and Scottish Government guidelines," said ASI Scottish Open championship director, Rory Colville.

“While the numbers on site will be strictly limited to continue to minimise risk, we will be able to offer Scottish golf fans the opportunity to watch their national open, which we and our valued partners at Aberdeen Standard Investments and the Scottish Government felt was important, if we were able to do so in a safe and controlled manner."

The controlled return of a strictly limited number of spectators follows the European Tour’s policy of playing events behind closed doors since the full resumption of the season in July, including six tournaments on a new UK Swing.

It sees the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open join a series of pilot sporting and cultural events being considered in Scotland, to help support the return of fans when it is safe to do so.

“I am pleased that the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open will take place in front of a limited number of spectators – a significant milestone for events in Scotland," said the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.

“I’d like to thank the European Tour and other partners for developing plans for this pilot event to be held safely, not just for the benefit of the spectators and players, but as a way of developing and shaping best practice, ultimately providing a pathway to the safe return of events as soon as we are able."

The 650 spectators per day on the weekend will be limited to daily general access ticket holders from Edinburgh and the Lothians. All previous ticket purchasers have been contacted to advise that their tickets will be automatically refunded, with those from the event's local area given priority access to repurchase the limited number of tickets available under the new terms and conditions.

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The proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to SAMH, Scotland’s national mental health charity, which has been confirmed as the tournament’s official charity this year.

As with all events for the remainder of the 2020 Race to Dubai, the tournament, which is set to boast the strongest field since the circuit came out of lockdown, will follow the European Tour’s stringent medical strategy and will be subject to Government and public health guidelines.

It will follow an inner and outer bubble protocol to allow spectator access to the site. Players, caddies, media and essential staff will remain within the tournament or ‘inner’ bubble and be subject to the European Tour’s stringent testing and health protocols.

Spectators will remain in a second ‘outer’ bubble to maintain distance from those within the tournament bubble. They will be subject to daily temperature checks and health questionnaires, and must follow stringent health protocols, including enhanced social distancing.

“Our events sector and our golf tourism industry are both hugely important to Scotland and this event will help play a role in their recovery," added Hyslop. "Participating in or watching sport is also beneficial to mental health. As such, I’m delighted to see SAMH appointed as the official charity, benefiting from all ticket sales revenue and raising awareness of the importance of mental health, particularly during these difficult times.”

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