• Alistair Tait

Ban the golf course invaders

The above photo of Woburn Golf Club's magnificent Marquess seventh hole is what all golf courses should look like right now: empty. Yet there's tiny minority who feel it is perfectly fine to play golf during this coronavirus nightmare, despite the government's explicit ban on all golf.

I'd institute lengthy bans for any golf club member defying the rules. They let the rest of us down.

As friend and colleague Martin Dempster highlighted in yesterday's Scotsman newspaper, there have been several cases of golfers in Edinburgh defying the ban. Martin quotes Craigmiller Park Golf Club's captain Gary Laing, who speaks for all of us when he says:

"It is disappointing and frustrating to learn that some individuals are taking advantage of the current situation where all golf courses are closed to access golf courses, including Craigmillar Park, and play golf."

Laing is confident the individuals concerned were not Craigmillar Park members, but people taking advantage of the empty course to sneak on and play the Edinburgh course.

There were also reports of people violating the ban by playing Edinburgh's Carrick Knowe. Laing also said a friend witnessed around 30 people playing Craigentinny, another Edinburgh course.

While it's to Craigmillar Park's credit that the individuals on the course weren't members, I've received a report about a prominent English course having to tell members to stay off the links during the ban. The secretary of said golf club emailed members to remind them that they were not allowed to play the course. It reads:

"(The police) have been in contact over the weekend as there were individuals using the golf course. For the avoidance of any doubt, the golf course is closed and anyone found to be using it will be dealt with by the Police. The Police have the power to issue on the spot fines and I have made it clear to them that the Club supports them in doing so."

St Enodoc Golf Club in Cornwall has put a message on its webiste entitled: 'A reminder! Both courses are closed!' which reads:

"Despite the fact that there are notices displayed to the effect that both the Holywell and Church courses are closed we have received reports of golfers playing. For the avoidance of doubt we would remind everyone to please keep away and keep off the golf courses. If you do see someone who does not understand "course closed" please call us on 01208 863216."

While I realise some of these individuals will probably not belong to the golf club, there will be some members of who think it's perfectly fine to take to the links to play. Sad to think that a tiny minority of golfers are arrogant/selfish enough to think they are above the law given that our sport is based on strict adherence to the rules and etiquette of the game.

I'd go further than just police fines. Any golf club member found playing golf during this time should face a lengthy ban.

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