Scottish golf clubs get green light for return of four-balls

But “no change” on Open competitions in updated guidelines

Scottish Golf is expected to update its guidelines following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's announcement about her plans for phase three of lockdown easing at lunchtime today. Picture: Scottish Golf

Fourballs have been given the green light to return at Scottish golf courses from tomorrow as part of phase three of the Covid-19 restrictions being lifted.

But clubs have also been advised that there "remains no change" for competitive golf for the time being, meaning open events are still not permitted.

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The announcements were made in Scottish Golf's updated guidelines following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing the move into phase three of lockdown restrictions being eased.

Phase one, which was implemented when courses reopened at the end of May, involved two-balls mainly, though two people from the same household were allowed to play in a three-ball.

Normal three-balls were then given the green light at the start of phase two and now groups of up to four golfers with no restrictions on the number of households has been rubber-stamped by Scottish Golf.

That change coincides with face masks being required by golfers from tomorrow when entering a professional's shop, with the new guidelines also including the go ahead for clubs to offer indoor hospitality from Wednesday, subject to maintaining physical distancing and appropriate hygiene routines.

While club competitions have already restarted with various safety measures in place, the wait goes on, however, for Open events to be given the thumbs up.

"At this time, there remains no change in the stance on the playing of competitive golf, with only club competition permitted despite the relaxation of travel restrictions," said Karin Sharp, Scottish Golf's chief operating officer, in her latest update to clubs.

"This decision is consistent across all sports and is based on the continuing premise that we are operating under an extension of exercise and not a return to sport.

"All clubs are asked to continue to respect the government position in this regard and not seek to jeopardise the image or trust in the golfing community by overlooking this key aspect that is applicable across all amateur sports that are currently operating."

The current guidance on competition from sportscotland and the Scottish Government states that "travel to a competition out with your normal club/venue of play is not permitted".

Fraser Dunlop, sportscotland's chief operating officer, said: “It is a positive step for sport that public health guidelines for daily exercise have been extended further as part of the Scottish Government’s route map through the pandemic.

"While this is good news, it is not a return to sport as we know it and the most pressing priority remains public health and wellbeing.

"As such, it is crucial that participants, and everyone connected with sport in Scotland, continue to play their part by adhering to the latest government guidance and the advice issued by the governing body of each sport to ensure the safety of all those involved.”

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