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Coronavirus Kent: Golf clubs around the county remain open despite the pandemic

Restrictions have been put on golf clubs around the county as courses remain open.

England Golf, the country's governing body for amateurs, has ordered all championship and performance events scheduled to take place up until and including June 7 to be postponed.

Golf club across Kent remain open this week
Golf club across Kent remain open this week

But members and visitors are still welcome to use courses across Kent, with different clubs implementing a range of measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

No touching of flags or course equipment is allowed at the likes of Canterbury Golf Club - who are still hosting friendly matches - while cups have been raised at others, to prevent further contamination.

All bar and dining areas within golf clubhouses have been told to shut and at Sittingbourne they are offering a takeaway service. Their club shop remains open for now.

Faversham Golf Club have been encouraging members to keep playing but have postponed next month's Junior Open on April 9 and cancelled the Pro-Am at the end of May.

General manager Paul Smith said: "In my opinion getting out onto the course can only be a good thing both physically and mentally, as long as players adhere to the guidelines that have been out in place or else we will pay the price and have to close.

"Players must stay two metres from each other, when playing and when starting from the first tee. As I am sure most clubs have done, we have removed all the rakes from bunkers so players are using their clubs to rake the bunkers.

"The ball washer consoles have also been removed so that they cannot be used. In addition, the flags are not to be touched and we have asked members not to hole out as it isn’t necessary and will save hands going into the cups.

"We have closed our bar and catering facilities for the foreseeable future based upon the government recommendations. The locker rooms remain open so that the toilet facilities can be utilised but we have asked that shoes are changed in the car park."

At Gillingham, their latest message to members was to be vigilant, saying: "Be assured that we are attempting all recommended precautions and best practice advised by the government.

"If and when coming to play please abide by the recommended no touching and social-distancing policy.

"If you feel you might have the Covid-19 symptoms, high temperature, persistent cough, or in the lowered immunity group please stay home, self isolate and seek medical advice."

Mid-Kent Golf Club have closed their doors to visitors and have told members on twitter: "do not touch flagsticks, keep your distance! No gatherings! Members only!"

It's also members only at Wildernesse Golf Club in Sevenoaks while the grounds, gardens and golf club remain open at Leeds Castle.

They say: "Leeds Castle wishes to assure all our visitors that we are adhering to the guidelines issued by the government and Public Health England regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)."

Chart Hills and Prince's Golf Club in Sandwich have asked anyone showing symptoms to stay away and that the "well being of our staff members and guests is our highest priority."

The Royal Cinque Ports club have asked members to remain two metres apart whilst playing.

Courses elsewhere across the county remain open on Monday, including Rochester & Cobham, Redlibbets in Sevenoaks, The Ridge in Maidstone, Sheerness and Chestfield.

The Open is set to be held at Royal St George's and organisers R&A say they are "undertaking a comprehensive evaluation". Their current focus is on proceeding as planned for the event to take place in July.

R&A's chief exec Martin Slumbers said: "We recognise that this is a rapidly changing situation and we will keep everyone informed of any changes to our plans. These are difficult times but we are bearing in mind our responsibility for what's right for golf and most importantly for society."

This year's 149th Open is returning to Royal St George's for the first time since 2011. Tickets remain available for practice days and the opening day of the championship, on Thursday, July 16, but the other three days are already sold out.

Further government guidelines could mean course closures. Parks in the county are already shutting, with Jeskyns Community Woodland closed from today (Monday).

England Golf's statement said: "These remain extremely difficult and unprecedented times for the game of golf as well as the country in general.

"England Golf remains committed to helping our golfing community adapt to the necessary changes and for golfers to continue to play the game in a safe environment and according to government and public health guidelines.

"The pace of change and the constant updating of government and medical advice means that a continual process of re-assessment of decisions and guidelines must be undertaken."

Read more sports news in Kent here

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