Scottish Golf issues warning to clubs over open competitions

Governing body is ready to “apply sanctions” if guidance is breached

Scottish Golf has been working with the Scottish Government and sportscotland during golf's phased return since the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Scottish Golf

Scottish Golf has warned that it is ready to take action if current advice about open competitions not being permitted due to Covid-19 restrictions is ignored.

The message was delivered by Karin Sharp, the governing body's chief operating officer, today in an email to member clubs.

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Since courses re-opened in Scotland at the end of May, club competitions have started to resume with Scottish Golf's approval.

But, even having now moved into phase 3 of the lockdown restrictions being eased by the Scottish Government, there is still no return for open events in sight.

Earlier this week, it emerged that one Scottish club was in the process of refunding over £6,000 in fees for two opens that have had to be cancelled later this month.

"Scottish Golf continues to work with sportscotland and the Scottish Government as we continue to transition through the different phases of Scotland’s route map out of lockdown," said Sharp in her email to clubs.

"Following continued discussions with the Government during the transition into Phase 3, our guidance on open competitions has had to remain the same, in that these cannot be played at present.

"We understand that this does present golf clubs across Scotland with significant challenges but, at this time, where public health remains the priority, we wanted to provide all affiliated clubs with some more information on the framework behind this decision.

"During the easing of lockdown restrictions, golf has been, and continues to be, viewed as an extension to exercise, not a return to sport.

"This is consistent across the sport sector in Scotland and it is imperative that all golf clubs follow the current rules regarding competitions that are in effect."

Sharp touched on two professional events, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the AIG Women's British Open at The Renaissance Club and Royal Troon respectively, getting the green light to go ahead as planned next month.

"We recognise that some professional events have confirmed their intent to resume in Scotland behind-closed-doors later this summer," she added.

"We would like to make clear to clubs that the resumption of these elite events will be subject to adherence of rigorous Covid-19 testing protocols that sit within the performance sport framework.

"These requirements are world-leading and, in many cases, the costs associated would not be viable for non-professional and non-elite performance events."

A number of Scottish clubs have stated their intention to push ahead with Open competitions, week-long events in some cases.

The Stephen Gallacher Foundation National Matchplay is also due to be held at Castle Park in August, when a new six-event Tartan Pro Tour is scheduled to start as well.

"Golf is a game that prides itself on sporting integrity and, as the national governing body, we must again emphasise that we all have a role to play in maintaining the integrity of the game and, if necessary, applying sanctions to any organisation found to be in breach of the ruling on running open competitions.

"This is not something we would wish to see and would encourage all clubs to familiarise themselves with the current guidance and take appropriate action to ensure that all guidelines are being met."

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