Play has been restricted to a local basis since the end of last year, but, as expected, new guidelines have been issued by Scottish Golf to take account of travel being allowed Scotland-wide as from Friday.
In an email sent to clubs, chief operating officer Karin Sharp said: “Following the First Minister’s latest update, Scottish Golf welcomes the news that the early easing of some lockdown restrictions will now take place from April 16.
“We have received final approval from our partners at sportscotland and the Scottish Government and our updated guidance means that from Friday 16 April, the following changes will take place:
“Adults living in Level 3 or Level 4 areas may leave their local authority area to participate in informal exercise that starts and finishes in the same place.
“Groups can consist of up to four golfers from within Scotland, with no restrictions on number of households.
“Golf continues to benefit from being classified as informal exercise by the Scottish Government and we recognise that this is a privileged position in comparison to some other sports at this time.
“This means that players from outwith the club’s local authority area can now travel to participate in a casual game of golf.
“However, where cross-border travel is required, competitive play will not be permitted at this time. We anticipate that from the 26 April, subject to further announcements, this restriction will also be lifted.”
The governing body later issued clarification through The Scotsman about what is classed as “competitive golf” due to casual rounds being permitted for scores to count under the new World Handicapping System.
“In line with sportscotland and Scottish Government guidance on organised sport, competitive golf refers to activities which are undertaken in a structured and managed way, following the rules of golf and guidance issued by Scottish Golf on playing of competitions,” said a statement.
“These activities should be overseen by a Covid officer with documented risk assessments undertaken and mitigating actions put in place to ensure the health, safety and welfare of participants, coaches and officials.”
In the statement, the governing body also hit back at being criticised on social media for the latest guidance that was described as “crazy”.
“It is also worth noting Scottish Golf does not set the rules or parameters for these distinctions,” it added. “However, we will continue to provide feedback on their practicalities for our member clubs."
Courses in Scotland have been open since the end of May, unlike in England, Ireland and Wales, where they only re-opened fairly recently after a second closure period.
“This announcement is welcome news for the golfing community,” said Sharp of the changes for Friday. “We know many golf clubs and golfers have endured significant sacrifices during the recent lockdown.
“But we hope that today’s update will provide an opportunity for more people to get back out on the golf course and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits that a round can provide.”