‘Rushed’ return as golfers get to grips with playing under lockdown guidelines

The reopening of golf courses in England was “more rushed than it needed to be”, one club has said, as players returned to greens on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Government announced courses could reopen as part of a relaxing of coronavirus lockdown measures in midweek, and many have flocked to the greens.

Bradford Golf Club in Guiseley, Leeds, reopened with a number of safety measures in place, using a mixture of Government advice, and that of industry bodies England Golf and the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA).

“The advice when available was adequate, but given that in reality we only had two days notice it was more rushed than it needed to be,” George Pye, the club’s marketing director, told the PA news agency.

The golf course has been split between holes 1-10 and 11-18 and a starter is sat at the beginning of each to ensure a 10-minute gap between each player or pair of players.

The club’s practice and putting grounds are closed for the next few weeks and players must book online beforehand, while social-distancing guides and hand sanitisers are also available.

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“We are delighted to be back playing, everyone is happily observing the guidance and simply happy to be out on the course once again,” Mr Pye added.

Jeremy Tomlinson, chief executive of England Golf, released a statement on Wednesday in which he acknowledged the “amazing work” that has been done to facilitate the return of golf.

“The hours since lockdown easing was announced – allowing golf to be one of the first sports to return – have been truly hectic,” Mr Tomlinson said.

“In challenging times, greenkeepers deserve a medal for the work they have put in to tend our courses and make sure that with just 48 hours’ notice they were ready for play.”

Coronavirus – Wed May 13, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed May 13, 2020

As per the new Government advice, Johnathon Mcenaney went to his local course in Newbiggin-by-the-sea, Northumberland, with his father.

“It’s good to be able to spend time with my dad… we have been seeing each other through a window for the past seven weeks,” the 33-year-old told PA.

“Everyone is over the moon to be outdoors playing the sport they love.”

It’s good to be back. #golfpic.twitter.com/1cnxgJPbaU

— johnny mac (@macas1387) May 13, 2020

Along with social distancing guidelines, Mr Mceneaney said his club had installed pipe lagging around the course’s holes to allow players to pick up their ball without touching the pin.

Mr Mceneaney added that he felt the Government advice on the relaxing of lockdown measures was “clear enough” and he “felt very safe”.