THE Old Course at St Andrews – the Home of Golf – is set to reopen on Friday, subject to an 11th hour approval by the Scottish Government on Thursday night.
But visitors will have to wait as tee times are restricted to St Andrews Links Trust’s yearly ticketholders from around the town in Fife – as the Scottish Government’s restricition on journeys remains at five miles.
The oldest golf course in the world will be back in play in time for the weekend, along with the New, Eden and Balgove.
The Strathtyrum, Jubilee and Castle will reopen in stages in the coming days and weeks. The Eden will be split into two loops to encourage people to play nine holes.
St Andrews Links Trust – which operates the seven courses at the Home of Golf – will insist on the following restrictions and guidelines for the coming weeks as players return.
Play will be restricted to Links ticketholders, who will play in a maximum of two-balls – 12 minutes apart. They must have a pre-booked tee time.
The ballot system will remain for the Old Course for Monday to Saturday. There is no play on Sundays.
Once the daily ballot is published, unallocated tee times can be booked by phone on (01334) 466666.
Yearly ticketholders can book a tee time for the other three courses online from 7pm – two days before play – and over the phone from 9am the day before.
Golfers can be from the same household, or two different ones – providing the players have no COVID-19 symptoms, are not in self-isolation or have been out of the country in the previous 14 days.
Social distancing must be observed on arrival at the Old Course and at all times during rounds.
Links Trust delighted to reopen Old
THE St Andrews Links Tust said it was “delighted” to share its plans for a phased reopening of the Old Course, known as the “Old Lady.”St
A spokesman said: “The return of golf is hugely important for our community and eagerly anticipated by us all.
“We will continue to monitor and review our policies and practices before we consider re-introducing guests and visitors in the coming weeks.
“We would like to thank everyone for their patience and continued support throughout this unprecedented period.
“Everyone in our community, every individual, every family, every business, every organisation has been impacted by this global pandemic.
“We are committed to ensuring that as we overcome these challenging times, the Links provides a safe and enjoyable environment for us to all come together – and play our part in a sensible and responsible manner.
“In order to move forward, we have had to begin preparing for the new normals – and new responsibilities that we must adhere to – if golf is to play an active role in emerging from this crisis.”
The Trust’s clubhouses, restaurants, the St Andrews Golf Academy and shops also remain closed in line with government guidance.
Players should change in the car park. No toilet facilities will be available in the first phase.
Flagpoles should not be touched – holes have been modified for simple ball retrieval.
All bunker rakes have been removed. Players should smooth sand with their club/feet, and must not pick up other players’ equipment or ball – nor exchange food or drinks.
The Scottish Government’s decision to scale back some of the lockdown restrictions was announced on Friday.
But it has taken another week for golf to get the green light north of the border. England’s golf courses reopened two weeks ago on May 13.
But Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to be rushed into allowing certain sports – including golf – the chance to resume after more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The St Andrews Trust spokesman added: “We urge everyone to be respectful of our guidelines to ensure that, in time, we can move to a fully phased reintroduction of the game – as we all know and love it.
“The health and wellbeing of colleagues, customers and golfers remains our priority, and we have developed our operations – and phased return – to promote social distancing at all times.”
•For full details on how to book a tee time at St Andrews, and to read the guidelines in full click here.
‘No rush to reschedule existing bookings’
VISITING golfers, who have existing bookings for the Old Course, should contact their authorised provider, to discuss prepaid bookings.
The Trust stressed this week there was no urgency to discuss reschedule times if you booked direct.
The reservations team is dealing with a high volume of queries. Contacting them via email in the first instance would be appreciated, the Links Trust said.
“We will continue to deal with queries throughout the weeks and months ahead. We thank you in advance for your patience. Thank you for your continued support,” said the spokesman.