Never In Peactime Has Scotland’s Over 550 Golf Clubs Been Asked To Shut Down.

Never before in peacetime have the more than 550 golf courses in Scotland been ask to shut down

Golf clubs looked as though they may escape the full Coronavirus ‘social gathering’ guidelines and continue playing golf but despite taking unprecedented measures and also many others presentating petitions to exempt golf, Downing Street and Holyrood ruled the ancient club-and-ball game to be out-of-bounds in staying open.

All four UK and Ireland golfing bodies issued statements to clubs under their own umbrellas with Scottish Golf advising golfers in Scotland ‘to refrain from golfing until further notice.’

England Golf indicated the move was “highly necessary and must be maintained under further notice” while Wales Golf said:  “It is clear that golf clubs, courses and facilities must close with immediate effect.”

The Golfing Union of Ireland has closed courses in Northern Ireland and is awaiting advice from the Ireland Government regarding the fate ‘Republic’ golf courses including Mt. Juliet that is due to host the Irish Open in the last week of May.

Pros and amateurs alike now need to find other ways to keep themselves occupied.

Top-ranked Scot Stephen Gallacher should have been last week out in India defending his Hero Indian Open title but instead he posted a Tweet boasting to fellow pros Jamie Donaldson and Anthony Wall his gardening skills with a photograph of a now neatly-looking planter box.

He said: “Planter done re composted @DonaldsonJamie @awallgofer WTF do I do now.”

Scottish Golf CEO, Andrew McKinlay mirrored the comments of all Home of Golf clubs.

“We need to protect everyone involved in golf. We’ve taken our advice from the Government, and it has been made very clear, golf is not to be played,” said McKinlay.

“The quicker people adhere to these instructions, hopefully the sooner we will all be back outside safely enjoying a round of golf and that’s what we all want.

“This is an unprecedented time in all our lives. There is no doubt that every industry will be affected and yes, this will have an impact on the golfing industry.

“We are working closely with partners across the industry to monitor, evaluate and understand the impact of COVID-19 on golf, but it’s just too early to know.”

Crail Golfing Society, and golf’s seventh oldest club, boasts two courses with the newer Craighead Links laid out late last century alongside HMS Jackdaw, a former Fleet Air Arm base that is now used for industrial work, farming along with car drag racing and car boot sales.

And there’s a clifftop concrete WW2 bunker looking out over the North Sea at the back of the 7th green to remind members and visitors of the events of some 60-years ago.

Crail Captain, Jim McArthur is also a former Chairman of the R &A’s Championship Committee who help organise The Open, the Women’s British Open, the Amateur and other events.

Crail Golfing Society Club Captain Jim McArthur with fellow Crail member and 2019 Scottish Amateur champion, George Burns (Photo – @TourMiss)

“It is unchartered waters for everybody and we took the view at Crail we would try and keep the golf courses open as long as we possibly can,” said McArthur.

“Though we realised it would be very much a phased close down and then when our Pro Shop closed down last night, as Graeme (Lennie – pro) said he was ‘non-essential retail’, we prepared a member update only for Boris Johnson to come on TV and followed by Nicola Sturgeon.

“So, we had to amend that update and then around 10.30pm Scottish Golf came out with a note for all Scottish clubs to close so we had to amend that notice.

“Our big issue now is that we need to try and keep our two courses reasonably maintained with a very small staff so that when the upturn does come, and it will eventually, we can get the courses into good condition again as soon as possible.

“We are not going to leave the courses and let the grass grow.”

Kingsbarns Links CEO Alan Hogg

Neighbouring Kingsbarns Links this year celebrates its 20th anniversary but any celebrations for the annual Alfred Dunhill Links host venue are very much on hold.

“Whilst we are obviously concerned about the immediate impact to our business, we have to focus all our efforts on a speedy recovery for our entire industry and its supply chain,” said Alan Hogg, CEO at Kingbarns Links.

“All we can do can do is follow the expert’s advice and adhere to government guidelines.  Golfers are renowned for sticking to the rules, never more so must this be the case!”

The closure of Scottish golf courses comes a blow to the new Dumbarnie Links course at Lower Largo.

The links-like course, located along the shore of the Firth of Forth in Fife, was designed by former Ryder Cup player Clive Clark, and has been looking forward to its official opening on May 16th.

Across the Tay and the private Ballumbie Castle club has been left red-faced after posting a message on the club’s Facebook page stating:  “After some consultation with the land owner and his lawyers, the golf course will remain open.”

The club soon pulled down the notice off social media.

A little fuurther north and Carnoustie Golf Links, host to the 2018 Open, announced a complete shutdown of all golf courses and facilities including the performance centre and management offices.

“While we are deeply saddened by this development, we hope you will understand and assist in these measures to aid public health protection,” read a statement released Tuesday morning.

“We will try to resume operations as quickly as possible. Please assist us and do not come to Carnoustie Golf Links.”

And Brora Golf Club, laid out along the Moray Firth, has been long been able to handle sheep ignoring instructions with the installation of mini electric fences around many of their greens.

Though the splendid James Braid-designed course has never dealt with something this dangerous and, not unlike every other club in Scotland, issuing a notice on the club’s Twitter page concerning their up-coming Spring Open stating: “In view of current government guidelines relating to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, we have decided it would be irresponsible to us to encourage players to compete.”

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