I was recently asked about public access to Scotland’s well known golf courses with visiting golfers asking how exclusive the properties were. If you have ever been fortunate enough to visit Scotland you probably have spotted a dog walker, fitness enthusiast or elderly rambler sharing the links with you. This is common practise, this is Scotland’s golfing culture.
Let’s get one thing corrected, the term golfing ‘property’ is exempt from Scottish soil. Our golf courses are predominantly public golf courses whereby any visiting golfer has access. The Country Club membership culture, a mainstay in the North America golf scene is the exception here in Scotland with only a very few well known courses falling into this bracket. (The Carrick Loch Lomond, Renaissance Club and Skibo Castle)
As a member of the public you have the right to walk on the other 590 or so golf courses in Scotland under the Right to Roam Act Scotland 2003. So what does this entitle you to do?
“You have the right to access most land and inland water including mountains, moorland, woods and forests, grassland, fields, rivers and lochs, coastal areas, most parks and open spaces, golf courses (to cross them); day and night, providing you do so responsibly.”
In Scotland you may be asked why you are walking the course or asked to stay out the way of golfers but you can expect not to be:
-Put in cuffs
-Approached by the Scottish Police force
-Asked to leave the ‘property’
-Charged with trespassing*
*The Right to Roam Act ensures Scotland does not enforce a trespassing law at present.
So as many experience on a Sunday afternoon on the Old Course St Andrews, Scotland’s golf courses are beautiful and historic areas of public land open to all. Play the links with your golfing associates but remember you have as much right to walk the links (for free) with those non golfers after your round. Scotland, the home of golf and a sport open to all.
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