Thursday 30 April 2020

R&A reveals measures for golf ’s return

The R&A has revealed the measures that will be in place when the green light is given for golf courses to reopen, having submitted the proposals to the government.


The plan, which has been drafted along with other golfing bodies, covers five main areas: course set-up, before, during and after the round and Rules of Golf-related matters.

Referring to the plan, the R&A said: “It is being provided to give transparency and clarity on current thinking about how the sport might resume in the UK in these challenging circumstances.”

Golf courses throughout the UK have been closed since 23 March, when the lockdown guidelines were introduced by the government with a view to containing the spread of Covid-19.
Most clubs have furloughed staff, though some greenkeepers have been kept on to look after essential course maintenance as they lie empty for the first time since the Second World War.

The proposals for “safe golf ” include the removal of bunker rakes and ball retrievers, the covering up of drinking fountains and ball washers and the removal or covering up of benches and bins.
Among other proposals are that flagsticks should not be touched and a hole liner should be used to prevent balls from dropping below the surface of greens.

Tee times would be subject to a booking system with a minimum of ten-minute intervals with practice areas remaining closed unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed.

The maximum number of golfers in a group per tee time is to be confirmed by the club/ facility and must be in accordance with any government requirements.

The plan proposes that clubhouses would remain closed other than to provide essential facilities such as toilets while trolleys and carts would not be available for hire unless safe sanitising practices can be guaranteed.

Golfers will be reminded to remain two metres apart at all times and use their feet to smooth over bunkers in the absence of rakes. It is recommended that non-competition play is used during the initial period of golf being played, and that stroke play competitions involving players in different groups are avoided.
If competitive stroke play is played, a method of scoring will need to be used that does not require any handling or exchanging of scorecards.

“The UK Golf Industry has carefully considered how to ensure the safe management of a golf facility when government Covid-19 restrictions are eased,” said the update on the R&A website.
“Detailed industry guidelines have been issued for the benefit of all staff, including greenkeepers, club professionals and golf facility managers, administrators and, of course, all golfers.

“There are many different types of golf clubs and golf facilities, requiring “safe golf” procedures to be finalised and implemented locally.
“However, the fundamentals are the same throughout the sport, which has a good record of compliance with rules and procedures. These procedures will include all aspects of the golfing experience, from arrival in the car park shortly before the round to departure straight away on completion of the round.

“Golfers will be required to comply with the rules on social distancing throughout. Some temporary provisions in relation to the Rules of Golf will also be necessary to ensure safe play.”
The proposals have industrywide backing from organisations such as Scotland Golf, England Golf, the PGA and other representative bodies.
“We have had positive discussion in the last few days with government [through key contacts in Active Scotland and sportscotland] and have their support in what is a planning phase,” said Scottish Golf chief operating officer Karin Sharp.
“We are also collaborating with key industry partners to ensure that across GB&I we are developing a consistent approach that can be adopted when the time is right."
“We are very much in the planning phase to ensure that when the time is right, we are well placed and have the support of key partners to be able to move quickly to update clubs with detailed information as to what a phased return to golf will look like.”

In a message to England Golf’s member clubs, chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson said: “Since the 23 March shutdown, the sacrifices we have all made in our daily lives have helped to play a part in a huge national effort to combat Covid-19.
“The way everyone in golf has rallied together in these uncertain times fills me with great optimism for the future. Now is the time for us all to keep the faith and see this through until the end.”

Paul Lawrie and Catriona Matthew talk all things golf in Scotland

Iain Evans, Catriona Matthew and Paul Lawrie
Over 300 people from across Scotland came together this afternoon for an exclusive Zoom Panel call with Major Champions Paul Lawrie and Catriona Matthew. 
Hosted by Scottish Golf’s Club Business Manager Iain Evans, both Paul and Catriona contributed to discussions on a number of topics including junior golf in Scotland, their individual career highlights and how they are adapting to challenges posed by the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Today’s call was the second in a series of calls being delivered by the governing body to help club managers and golfers in dealing with the disruption facing the golf industry. The call, which can be  WATCHED BACK HEREwas another huge success with a retention rate of 96%. 

Iain Evans, Club Business Manager at Scottish Golf said, “I would like to say a massive thank you to our excellent panellists, Paul and Catriona for providing all of our attendees with fascinating insight into their illustrious careers and all things golf in Scotland. We know that these are uncertain and challenging times for everyone involved in our great game and it was a pleasure to be able to bring two of Scotland’s greats together to answer questions from golf club managers and golfers across Scotland.

“Our Zoom Panel calls are providing some really valuable insights and we are delighted that we can continue to embrace digital technology during this period to bring people from across our golfing community together.” 

Details of our next Zoom Panel call will be issued to all affiliated golf club in the coming days and we look forward to welcoming you online again soon. If you missed the opportunity to attend today’s call, you can click HERE to watch the 30-minute interview with Paul and Catriona in full.


The R&A has announced plans to stage both the Women's Amateur Championship and the Amateur Championship in new slots later in the year.

The two prestigious events had already been postponed in their original dates in June due to the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus.

But hopes they can still be played have been boosted by the R&A confirming an updated 2020 schedule for amateur events and international matches.

The Women’s Amateur Championship has been rescheduled to 25-29 August at Kilmarnock (Barassie) while the Amateur Championship has been slotted in for 25-30 August at Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire.

"These plans are dependent on the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to follow the guidance from the UK Government, health authorities and our own medical consultants," said the R&A in a press release.

  • The R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship will be played from 11-15 August at Southport & Ainsdale as scheduled
  • The R&A Women’s Senior Amateur Championship will be played from 19-21 August at Ashridge as scheduled 
  • The Women’s Amateur Championship has been rescheduled from 23-27 June to 25-29 August at Kilmarnock (Barassie)
Read more details on the R&A WEBSITE


IMPORTANT INFORMATION Are you wondering why the weekly MGRankings change when golf courses/clubs are currently closed and thus no competitive club counting events are being played? MGRanking is based on data compiled from a rolling 52 week cycle. This week the result data from Week 2019/17 is by data from Week 2020/17 which may not exist.

The full West of Scotland Counties MGRankings (Club and Player) are now available and may be viewed on your link to (Full lists will be available next week)

Caroline King
Clober Ladies
Jane Clark
Airdrie Ladies
Audrey Thompson
Loudoun Gowf Ladies
Ashley Duffy
Clober Ladies
Susan Rattray
Douglas Park Ladies
Jan Macnab
Ranfurly Castle GC Ladies
Katharine Hardman
Dunaverty Ladies
Liz Keohone
Loudoun Gowf Ladies
Josephine Monaghan
Dumbarton Ladies
Gillian Kennedy
Troon Welbeck Ladies
Lorna Spencer
Largs Ladies
Paula Galloway
Douglas Park Ladies
Pauline Patrick
Irvine Ladies
Robina Gilbertson
Prestwick St Nicholas Ladies
Jill Burgess
Hilton Park Ladies
Amy Mcdonald
Bothwell Castle Ladies
Allison A Bell
Strathaven GC Ladies
Sarah Kemp
Helensburgh Ladies
Heather Climson
East Renfrewshire Ladies
Joanne Sharp
Kilmarnock (Barassie) Ladies

1 Audrey Thompson (Loudoun Gowf) 1144 points
2 Liz Keohane (Loudoun Gowf) 1057
3 Gillian Kennedy (Troon Welbeck) 1051
4 Lorna Spencer (Largs) 1043
5 Pauline Patrick (Irvine) 1038
6 Robina Gilbertson (Prestwick St Nicholas) 1026
7 Joanne Sharp (Kilmarnock (Barassie)) 984
8 Aileen Anderson (Loudoun Gowf) 966
9 Anne Burns (Loudoun Gowf) 951
10 Janet Harkness (Skelmorlie) 939

1 Loudoun Gowf 894
2 Largs 873
3 Kilmarnock (Barassie) 831
T4 Prestwick St Nicholas, Troon Welbeck 828
6 Skelmorlie 804
7 Prestwick St Cuthbert 742
8 Girvan 727
9 Irvine 708
10 Brodick 447

1 Caroline King (Clober) 1220 points
2 Ashley Duffy (Clober) 1129
3 Susan Rattray (Douglas Park) 1083
4 Katharine Hardman (Dunaverty) 1063
5 Josephine Monaghan (Dumbarton) 1053
6 Paula Galloway (Douglas Park) 1038
7 Jill Burgess (Hilton Park) 1016
8 Sarah Kemp (Helensburgh) 992
9 Gillian Morrison (Clober) 979
10 Margaret Mackinnon (Lochgilphead) 976

1 Clober 1048
2 Palacerigg 857
3 Balmore 856
4 Douglas Park 842
5 Dunaverty 833
6 Dumbarton 785
T7 Blairmore & Strone, Lochgilphead 767
9 Helensburgh 750
10 Hilton Park 713

1 Jane Clark Airdrie) 1207 points
T2 Allison Bell (Strathaven), Amy McDonald (Bothwell
Castle) 998
4 Ruth Hunter (Lanark) 968
5 Nichola Craig (Lanark) 961
6 Elaine Johnstone (Hamilton) 939
7 Emily Lowther (Kirkhill) 917
8 Abigail McCafferty (Airdrie) 897
9 Susan Halley (Strathaven) 896
10 Lisa Chan (Hamilton) 892

1 Airdrie 888
2 Lanark 828
3 Kirkhill 802
4 Strathaven 789
5 Hamilton 781
6 Carnwath 767
7 Bothwell Castle 766
8 Langlands 742
9 Crow Wood 459

1 Jan Macnab (Ranfurly Castle) 1064 points
2 Heather Climson (East Renfrewshire) 992
3 Denise Cowan (Ranfurly Castle) 980
4 Janette McCartney (Erskine) 962
5 Anabel Kane (Kilmacolm) 951
6 Sandra Reid (Renfrew) 915
7 Allison Murray (Ranfurly Castle) 913
8 Lynda Bradley (Kilmacolm) 889
T9 Mary Aitken (Erskine), Marion Munro (Ranfurly Castle) 863

1 Erskine 871
2 Ranfurly Castle 849
3 Renfrew 826
4 Kilmacolm 731
5 Bonnyton 711
6 East Renfrewshire 662
7 Paisley 585
8 Earl of Mar 167

Tuesday 28 April 2020


Dear Member Clubs,
In my first newsletter since taking the lead at Scottish Golf, I wanted to offer a more detailed outline to our membership on decisions that have been made recently, and the strategy and rationale behind them. Making key decisions in such uncertain times is a challenge all businesses are facing and at Scottish Golf we have a responsibility to protect the organisation and all the clubs we represent. In such difficult circumstances, it was important that action was taken to deliver tangible offerings to all golf clubs. If ever the “one size fits all” theory is not ideal, it is now, but to act swiftly this is the model that has to be used. From a financial planning perspective, there were many uncertainties where robust information was required to ensure that responsible business decisions were made.
Decisions recently made: 

Events – Cancel all events for 2020
Rationale – The decision to cancel all events was not made lightly, or purely on the basis of when it would be possible to play a round of golf, or even run an event in the future. We had to take into consideration the full requirements to run a National Championship and the impact it would have, like:
  • When would courses be open for Championship play? 
  • Would it be fair to close a member’s course for up to a week and deny that membership their facility when they have been starved of golf for many weeks/months at a key time of the year? 
  • Would it be safe for our staff and volunteers to run events?
  • Where would the participants stay (would hotels, guest houses be open)? Once at the event, would clubhouses and restaurants be open for them to eat at? 
  • When will normal playing conditions be achieved? We could be playing with upturned cups, no rakes for bunkers etc for some time post restrictions being lifted and we question whether National Championships should be contested under potentially restricted playing conditions?
We have been in touch with all of the 2020 Host Venue Clubs and given them first refusal to host the same event in the 2021 season. We continue to work through the logistics of this with the current and subsequent year venues but with staff furloughed both in clubs and at Scottish Golf, this process is going to take some time and we will provide further updates on the 2021 calendar in the coming months. 

Performance – Cancel the performance programme for the remainder of 2020 playing season
Rationale – Another decision not taken lightly, with many of the reasons for cancelling our own events also being relevant to performance activity, along with the additional key aspect of not knowing when international travel might be permitted. In taking an early decision in consultation with external funders to the performance programme and by making our position clear, it enabled us to redirect funds for golf club support.

Golf Club Financial Survey – To issue a short survey to all clubs
Rationale – This was the final key part in our planning to give us a clear picture on the facts behind the current landscape. Contrary to the thoughts of some, this was never intended as an intrusive survey, more to ensure we were basing decisions on facts as opposed to opinions. A personal thank you to all the clubs who completed this survey in such a timely manner.  Through recent work, and with sportscotland’s assistance, we are now also gaining a clearer understanding of the number of clubs impacted by possible grant restriction based on their rateable value. This will continue to be an ongoing discussion with Government for us.
What next?

Return to Golf – A topic that many have been asking about and one which we are actively engaging with many key partners to move forward. We have had positive discussion in the last few days with government (through key contacts in Active Scotland and sportscotland) and have their support in what is a planning phase. We are also collaborating with key industry partners to ensure that across GB&I we are developing a consistent approach that can be adopted when the time is right. It is highly likely that any return will be in phases, with single golfers or household groups in the first instance to ensure that the golf industry continues to adhere to government guidelines – within our clubs, we will have a mix of front line & key workers, along with vulnerable groups who have been shielding or self-isolating for lengthy periods and we must continue to ensure we can keep everyone safe. To be clear, we are very much in the planning phase to ensure that when the time is right, we are well placed and have the support of key partners to be able to move quickly to update clubs with detailed information as to what a phased return to golf will look like. In the meantime, whilst we remain in lockdown with the restrictions in place we must continue to stay home and save lives. 

Affiliation Fees – As you know our financial year runs from 1st October to 30th September, so the Coronavirus Pandemic impact on Golf Course closure happened just a few days short of 6 months into the current year. The Regulations of Scottish Golf state that all affiliation fees are in fact due by the end of January, but in recent years Scottish Golf moved this to the end of March to try and assist clubs with cash flow based on when a large portion of club membership fees fall due. For various reason as of today almost 40% of affiliation fees due to Scottish Golf remain unpaid. The payment due by date was informally extended to allow time for further internal discussion and we have made no representation to clubs chasing the outstanding balances at this time. On a more positive note, as of last week our membership reported an average of 75% of 2020 membership has already been renewed, 64% of Clubs have already applied for/received their Government Support Fund, and 76% have made use of Government Furlough. For clarity this is based on 135 clubs that responded.

Scottish Golf Support – With all of the above taken into consideration, we are now in a position to announce our plans to assist golf clubs from a financial perspective over the remaining 6 months of this financial year, and into our 2020/21 financial year. We are making an immediate commitment to our clubs that offers in excess of £575,000 of support by way of refund or rebate on affiliation fees. This equates to 50% reduction of the remaining 6 months of the financial year. We are also committing to interest free payment plans for any club that needs it for the 2019/20 financial year and the 2020/21 financial year. 

Summary of our commitment:
  • All clubs can apply for a 25% refund on their total 2019/20 affiliation fee invoice. Clubs that have already paid can apply for a refund or carry over a credit to the 2020/21 invoice year.
  • All clubs can apply for an interest free payment plan for both the 2019/20 period and the 2020/21 financial year. 
  • Any club that elects not to take the 25% refund/discount, we will commit that value to a club support fund which will be used for clubs under considerable financial strain. The value of this fund will become clear once all refund applications have been processed and the outcome will be published.
  • Scottish Golf will communicate the application process to all clubs within the next 14 days (noting it will be different for clubs who have paid, those who are adhering to committed payment plans and those clubs who have not communicated their intent). 
A final thought:
As a member organisation it is imperative that we all are considerate of each other and work as a collective. Here at Scottish Golf we have colleagues, with families, who work hard on behalf of the game in Scotland and whom we have looked to treat with fairness and respect. Some of those colleagues we have had to furlough – others continue to work supporting the membership through these challenging times. Like our member clubs, we have other fixed business expenses that we must pay, however we are in a fortunate position where the combination of reserves and reallocation of budget from events and performance activity have allowed us to take the financial decision to refund part of the affiliation fee. We recognise that some clubs will be struggling more than others in these challenging times, particularly those who don’t have reserves on which they can rely. 
If we commit to working together and supporting each other, golf can come out of this crisis in a stronger more unified way. I will do all that I can to support every club with the resources I have, but I also ask that clubs recognise that my limited team (13 since furlough) are working flat out to adapt to an ever-changing world. Following on from today, I will be in dialogue with the Areas and Counties to gain a clearer understanding of the challenges they are hearing of at a local level (many of these calls were scheduled at the end of last week), and I will also make myself available to assist our wider membership in any way that I can. 
Thank you and stay safe.
Karin Sharp
Chief Operating Officer