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Despite tougher new COVID-19 mitigation measures coming into effect at midnight tonight, golf courses in Scotland WILL be allowed to remain open. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today outlined a tightening of restrictions across the Scottish mainland in a bid to suppress and contain the new, faster-spreading strain of the virus.

The measures, enforceable by law, will see schools closed and people advised to stay at home and work from home where possible.

Places of worship will be required to close, with group exercise banned. Indeed, people will only be allowed to leave their homes if they have a reasonable excuse to do so or for an essential purpose. 

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An example of a reasonable excuse, as defined on the Scottish Government website, is for “local outdoor recreations, sport or exercise, walking, cycling, golf, or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area) as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households”. 

Those rules restrict outdoor meetings to a maximum of two people from two households.

In an email to all affiliated clubs, Scottish Golf confirmed this news, stating:

• Golf courses can remain open for play with a maximum of two players from up to two households.

• Golfers must stay close to home, travel only for essential purposes and in line with the new legislation.

Karin Sharp, the Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Golf, said: “As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we have worked alongside both sportscotland and The Scottish Government to demonstrate that golf is a sport that can be played outdoors with physical distancing and increased safety measures in place. We are pleased that this continues to be recognised.”

She added that Scottish Golf is “continuing to seek further clarification” on a number of the wider aspects for sport from sportscotland and the Scottish Government. The body envisages being in a position to provide a more in-depth update for all affiliated clubs within the next 24 hours.    

Sharp continued: “Scottish Golf asks that all golf clubs and golfers adhere to the new guidance with the same spirit and integrity that has been shown throughout the last year to ensure we can all continue to benefit from playing golf through this new period of restrictions.”

The picture across the rest of the UK is somewhat different, with courses in Northern Ireland and Wales currently closed. It is thought that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out new measures for England this evening that are broadly in line with what has been announced in Scotland. Golf courses in the Republic of Ireland, meantime, are also closed at present.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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