Why Are Golf Courses Open In Scotland But Not England?

Golf is allowed in Scotland during the current lockdown, but the sport is not allowed anywhere else in the UK

Why Are Golf Courses Open In Scotland But Not England
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Golf is allowed in Scotland during the current lockdown, but the sport is not allowed anywhere else in the UK

Why Are Golf Courses Open In Scotland But Not England?

UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced a lockdown in England on Monday evening, prompting courses across the country to close.

This would have been completely understandable had Scotland not also announced a lockdown that same day and kept its courses open for play.

So, why are Scotland's courses open but England's aren't?

Scotland's regulations and laws, like in Wales and Northern Ireland, are made by the devolved parliament/assemblies whilst England's regulations and laws are set by the UK Government of Westminster.

The First Minister of Scotland is currently the only leader of any of the four UK nations to allow golf to be played, with the other nations all currently banning golf.

The main difference between the English and Scottish lockdowns, in terms of golf, is that Scots are allowed out for exercise as much as they like but the English are currently only allowed out once per day for exercise.

Scotland is encouraging people to stay local but the 'stay at home' message is less strict.

In England, you are only allowed out once per day for exercise and you must stay local.

You are allowed to travel to meet someone else outside for exercise, but not to play golf.

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf chairman Craig Tracey wrote on Twitter that he had been working to keep golf open prior to the lockdown but the government's view was that "they want to restrict travel and time away from home."

This has certainly angered some and a petition is currently running (opens in new tab) to try and get golf back open.

Will any petition be successful? Who knows.

England Golf are not giving up though, saying that they are continuing to work behind the scenes to get golf back open.

"The evidence to support golf as a naturally socially distanced sport, played in the open-air and with Covid-secure rules in place has been presented to government," England Golf said.

"The facts and figures to support the mental and physical benefits that golf offers participants during a period of lockdown and isolation have been laid out in some detail.

"Golf is no different to walking, running and cycling and in fact can be regulated in a far more secure way than many activities currently allowed to take part in our parks and open recreation spaces where there are no ways to control numbers of participants.

"Unfortunately, the UK Government’s position at this time is to instruct golf courses and facilities to close. We continue to work hard behind the scenes to push for golf’s return in a safe and responsible manner at the earliest opportunity."

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Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x