Golf courses

“Post-lockdown runners and hikers ignore requests to leave golf courses”

A report by The Times newspaper reveals that golf clubs and golfers in Scotland are increasingly coming into conflict with hikers and joggers who refuse to leave the courses.

The article states that they also fail to clean up after their pets.

An incident in Renfrewshire has even resulted in two men being charged after a dog walker was allegedly injured following an argument with several golfers.

At Bothwell Castle Golf Club in Lanarkshire, “words were exchanged between golfers and walkers, both frustrated with each other”, according to the club. New signs indicate that access is restricted to “members and guests”. Bothwell said the pandemic closures had a “major impact” on people walking on his land. He insisted the decision to limit access was “a matter of security”.

He added: “Golfers don’t hit the ball straight all the time – even the best professionals – and a 100mph ball can inflict serious damage. Also a number of walkers [and] joggers wear headphones and so the traditional shout of “fore” as a warning of a ball heading their way is almost redundant.

The club said the wording of its signs had been agreed with South Lanarkshire Council. The Land Reform Act 2003 allows walkers access to the courses as long as they do not interrupt play. Ramblers Scotland advises anyone wishing to exercise their right of access to keep away from the greens at any time.

Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “While many courses have supported increased responsible access during lockdowns, we have since seen more informal access points blocked and more signs designed to discourage walkers,” Paddy said.

He advised golf club managers to assume that people have a right to walk the course and to help them do so safely, adding: “Health and safety does not trump access rights, but the two must work together. to reduce risk. . . without unduly blocking access.

In Gleneagles, Perthshire, there are no restrictions. “We respect everyone’s right to exercise their rights to access our domain, to enjoy it safely and responsibly,” the station said.

The Old Course at St Andrews allows access, but there will be exceptions when the Open starts on Sunday.

The Scottish Government said: “Any concerns about responsible non-motorized access rights to land, as set out in the access code, should be raised with the local access officer.”