'Nothing finalised' for golf courses to reopen in Scotland, says governing body

Scottish Golf has said "nothing has been finalised" regarding a date for golf courses to reopen after being closed for nearly six weeks due to the coronavirus crisis.

Golf courses in Scotland and the rest of the UK have been closed due to the coronavirus crisis since 23 March. Picture: JPI Media

The governing body delivered the message in a statement, which claimed that some clubs in the country had been telling members they intended to reopen ahead of restrictions being lifted.

The statement read: "In response to increased speculation and rumour around timing of the re-introduction of golf, Scottish Golf can confirm that nothing has been finalised regarding a date, or any details of potential phasing with Government.

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"Scottish Golf has been, and will remain in regular dialogue with Scottish Government, with regards to the planned procedures for the safe return of our sport when the time is right.

"We also continue to collaborate with our partners in golf throughout the UK and act as a collective at every opportunity.

"The recent update provided by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that lockdown restrictions remain in place and the clear public health message is to stay home and save lives.

This responsibility sits with each of us and golf is no exception."

Courses in Ireland are due to reopen on 18 May with mileage restrictions in place, while the R&A has drawn up guidelines on how clubs can deliver "safe golf".

However, with the First Minister taking a cautious approach to lockdown restrictions being lifted in Scotland, no date has been set for courses to reopen in the game's cradle.

Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, said: “I recognise the importance of golf to many across the country, and the eagerness to return to the course as soon as possible.

"However, that can only happen once it is safe to do so – and the focus at present must be the continuation of measures to slow the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

"The Scottish Government and sportscotland are working closely with Scottish Golf to ensure the right preparation and risk assessment is undertaken to allow golf to return at the appropriate time.”

It has been suggested that golf's return in the UK could start with play being limited to single golfers and two-balls from the same household.

Karin Sharp, Scottish Golf's chief operating officer: “It has been disappointing to hear that some golf clubs in Scotland have communicated to members their intent to re-open their golf course ahead of restrictions being lifted.

"We urge all member clubs to continue to follow the Scottish Government advice, that continues to have the best interest of the public at heart.

"Golf is a sport where integrity and rules sit at the very heart of the game and we ask all golfers to respect the position of Scottish Government and show patience at a time when the virus continues to have a devastating impact on society.

"I appreciate the frustrations and desire to play golf as soon as possible, but I urge you to continue following Government guidelines and save lives."

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