SCOTTISH golfers will be able to resume playing a week tomorrow – if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives them the go-ahead next Thursday and they follow guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus

The First Minister today announced that lockdown restrictions are to be eased from May 28 and unveiled a four phase “route map” aimed at restarting society while still supressing the spread of coronavirus.

Sturgeon revealed the first phase will see, subject to final clearance, some outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, tennis and bowls allowed again.

Scottish Golf sent guidelines to all of their affiliated clubs last night stressing the Scottish government will monitor the situation and could reintroduce restrictions and suspend golf again if the rules are not adhered to. 

The document reads: “It is imperative that golf clubs take the necessary steps outlined prior to opening their courses for play and adhere to the guidelines, which could be subject to update or change at any time.” 

Government travel restrictions and physical distancing rules will apply and golfers in the Covid-19 high risk category as well as anyone showing symptoms will be urged to stay away from clubs. 

Tee times must be booked in advance and golfers will be able to play by themselves or in a two ball with another household member or a non-household member if physical distancing restrictions are adhered to.

Three and four balls will be permitted at a club’s discretion if there are only two household groups participating. Elsewhere, clubhouses will be closed and competition discouraged.

Holes will be altered to facilitate easy retrieval of golf balls while bins, fountains, ball washers, rakes, benches, divot boxes and non-essential furniture will be removed from the course. Golfers will be instructed not to touch flagsticks.

A Scottish Golf statement read: “Following positive discussions with the Scottish government, sportscotland and the governing bodies for tennis and bowls, Scottish Golf welcomes today’s news that our golfing community will benefit from the Scottish government’s revised guidance for exercise. 

“Guidance documents containing detail on preparing facilities for the return of golf will be issued to all affiliated clubs as soon as practically possible. This will take into account details from the road map published by the Scottish government today.”

Meanwhile, Tennis Scotland chief executive Blane Dodds said: "We have been developing guidelines with the support of the LTA and sportscotland, which will set out consistent guidance to allow clubs and players to prepare for getting back on court safely.

"That guidance will now be updated for Scotland specifically, following the full publication of the Scottish government's revised conditions for sport and exercise. Updated guidelines for tennis will be published tomorrow. We are all looking forward to getting back to tennis as soon as it is safe to do so."

A move to phase two in future will include provisions for the "resumption of professional sport in line with public health advice".

That will mean opportunities for elite level athletes to compete and a possible return for football. Restrictions on holding live events will continue to be assessed across the third and fourth phases.

Sturgeon said: "Some non-contact outdoor leisure activities will be allowed to restart, such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing, subject of course to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.

"In addition, people will be able to travel, preferably by walking or cycling, to a location in their local community for recreation.

"Those phase one measures - most of which have an outdoor focus - are not in place yet, and they are dependent on us continuing to suppress the virus. They will also be monitored carefully as they do take effect."