Published: 14:00, 14 May 2020
| Updated: 15:06, 14 May 2020
Golf clubs in Kent have been busy this week after reopening their courses.
Most have been open for members only but more players are likely to be able to enjoy golf too in the coming days.
Sports such as tennis and fishing have also resumed this week.
The likes of Prince's Golf Club in Sandwich and Ashford Golf Club have been open since Wednesday, while Sittingbourne & Milton Regis Golf Club had all of their tee times booked through to 7pm on the resumption of play.
All clubs are having to adhere to strict protocol, with advance bookings , social distancing and staying in line with the government’s new coronavirus guidelines.
Many clubs who would usually allow walk-in customers to pay daily green fees, such as Upchurch River Valley, are currently operating a members-only policy.
The Upchurch club say they are currently “extremely busy” but that it’s possible they may be open up to non members from Monday.
There are several golf clubs in Kent managed by Mytime Active, who will welcome non-members.
They are reopening their courses from Saturday, starting with the Bromley Golf Centre the High Elms Golf Course and the Orpington Golf Centre
On Wednesday (May 20) golfers can return to Cobtree Manor Park, one of the most visited pay and play golf courses in Kent.
Players must follow the government’s guidelines in that they must be with members of their own household or with just one other person from a different address.
Canterbury Golf Club were one of those back open on Wednesday and have been inundated.
They were fully booked through from 7.30am to 6.30pm on Thursday. They only had a couple of slots that weren’t taken the day before.
It’s members only at present, so they all have chance to play.
One of the club's professionals, Robert Jesus, said: “Because we are only doing two-balls at the moment it looks like we are more busier than usual, but in reality it is less busy than normal.”
They reminded members before opening about not touching flag sticks, adhering to social distancing at all times and that course furniture was not to be used.
The London Golf club welcomed members back on Wednesday, as did Prince's, who were well prepared with plenty of new signage on display.
With only around 350 members, players at Prince’s were able to play at their leisure, with plenty of tee times available.
Ashford golf club were back open for members only, with reserved tee times.
“It’s great to be back playing again,” they said
Bearsted Golf Club were back open for members only, as was Ashford Golf Club.
Poult Wood will be back open this Saturday, including the club shop for essential items. Clubs are limiting admittance to their shops to two people, maximum.
Customers playing at Poult Wood this weekend have been advised that the course may not be up to the usual standards expected as the greenkeeping team had been operating at half the usual workforce.
Tee times must be pre-booked and they are accepting visitors but say "golfers turning up to pay and play will be turned away without exception."
Leeds Castle, who have a nine-hole course open to members and non-members, say “golf will be back with us shortly” but are still in the “meeting stage, trying to provide a safe environment to come back and play.”
Chart Hills are taking a cautious approach and won’t be open until Monday, June 1.
They say: “With improvement works at the club continuing to take place, combined with the ongoing risk of Covid-19, we have decided to remain closed until June 1st so works can progress.
Jeremy Tomlinson, chief exec of England Golf, the amateur game’s governing body, has welcomed the return of golf.
Speaking prior to the resumption, he said: “Whether it’s going out with a member of your household or meeting up with a pal again, being able to play social golf will undoubtedly lift the mood of our golfing community.
“I’d like to acknowledge the amazing work that has been going on in the background to prepare for golf’s comeback.
“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.
“General managers, our pros, committee members, all other golf club staff and volunteers have been through the mill and their Herculean efforts in trying to keep clubs afloat and communicating with members cannot be overlooked."
He does, however, admit tough times are still ahead for clubs as they look to recover from finances lost through their closure. Courses were closed on March 24 following government’s emergency lockdown legislation.
Mr Tomlinson said: “The reality now, of course, is that there is more hard work on the horizon.
“The financial issues raised by temporary business closure during the pandemic also means that there are tough times ahead for all clubs.
“We are not out of the woods on this one. Rest assured England Golf will do all it can to support our clubs in the weeks and months ahead.”
And he added: “The threat from Covid-19 is also still very real and there is a huge onus on all of us to make sure we Stay Alert and don’t become complacent.
“Our 'Play Safe, Stay Safe' message has resonated with golfers over the past few weeks and it’s crucial that everyone continues to act responsibly.
“Health remains the priority and we cannot take our eye off the ball and put strain back on the NHS and frontline workers who deserve our support and backing now more than ever.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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