‘The golf course won’t be ready as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 25, 2020 06:17 Updated

A golf club manager has warned that his venue will have to introduce a phased return of tee times when the course reopens because it won’t be ready for heavy golfing traffic.

The UK golf industry went into lockdown just as winter was coming to an end and most clubs have since furloughed the vast majority of their greenkeeping staff – just when crucial work would normally go into golf courses to prepare them for the footfall from spring and summer golfers.

In addition, many golf clubs experienced a wetter than normal winter and have had walkers using their courses during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking to Largs & Millport Weekly News, Jim Callaghan, the manager of Largs Golf Club in North Ayrshire, warned that the course may not be immediately playable whenever lockdown restrictions are lifted.

He said: “It was a wet few months so we were hoping for a good spring to recover from the impact of that, although since we’ve been in lockdown the weather has been quite good.

“I would imagine it’ll take a period of time to get ready, the golf course won’t be open immediately, put it that way.

“It won’t be a free for all, it will be a phased return for tee offs and then hopefully competitions.”

Largs Golf Club. Image from Facebook

He added that Largs is “not in a good place” but is perhaps doing better than several other clubs that have launched emergency appeals for funds.

“It’s a bit early to tell the impact, our subscription year starts in January, so we’ve already taken in some money from those people,” he said.

“Looking at social media and what other clubs are doing, they’re asking people to support their organisation if they can through donations and such like, we’re no different in that.”

The club currently has around 700 members and Mr Callaghan hopes the annual fees will see them through.

He said: “We’re hoping that we’ll get back at some point and recoup some of that expenditure, but we don’t know.

“We’ve done a projection and it’s looking okay, because we’ve cut as much of our outgoings we can. We not in a good place but we’re perhaps in a better place than some others.”

Another golf club preparing for the return of golf is Altrincham Golf Course and Driving Range in Manchester. The company that runs it, Trafford Leisure, has written to local residents asking them to keep off the greens during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In the letter, spokesman Paul Murray said: “During these unprecedented times we welcome the local community to use the golf course for their daily exercise, be that walking the dog, taking a stroll or having a run, and Altrincham Golf Course is attracting a large number of people.

“It’s fantastic to see so many families enjoying the beautiful scenery, whilst adhering to government guidelines on social distancing.

“We ask you to help us look after this superb green space for the longer term and would like to remind everyone to respect the golf course and the staff who are carrying out essential work.”

The company insisted it wanted to avoid damage, both unintentional and intentional, to “vital areas” of the golf course.

It said: “It’s important the course is kept in good condition, ready for when we reopen for business, so we can make sure Altrincham still has a beautiful golf course for the public to enjoy.”

The company also added a list of things to remember while using the space, including staying off the greens, not removing sand from bunkers, being careful around water hazards, keeping pushchairs to the edge of the course and not playing any golf during the lockdown.

There is hope that UK golf courses will be allowed to reopen shortly. Less than a week before the full lockdown was implemented, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said golf was an allowable activity provided golfers socially distance. Since then, a world expert on viral diseases has singled out golf as a game that can be played in the current environment, and golf courses around the world, including even in New York, have reopened. Ireland’s chief medical officer has also said that the ‘resumption of certain sporting activities is among the broad range of measures being considered in the medium-term, provided social distancing measures can still be adhered to,’ giving hope that golf in that country can resume in early May.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 25, 2020 06:17 Updated
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  1. Jimbo April 26, 22:16

    I believe, they could open up courses now. With careful planning and a booking system you could allow 4 balls to go off at 15 minute interval. The presence of people on the course will also help in the prevention of vandalism.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ian W April 26, 17:50

    Listening to the latest Uk government press conference the chances of the five tests being reached anytime soon is practically zero. The chances of golf opening before July are similar. It’s just the way it is, businesses and golf courses will go bankrupt unfortunately. The government will put peoples health first. I’ve seen so many posts trying to make people feel better but the facts is lockdown is here for a while yet. As Angela Merkel & top scientists have said we are still at the beginning of this. Allowing a relaxation of the lockdown will only increase the death toll by thousands. Do I miss golf ? Yes . Do other people miss their sport ? Of course. Am I happy staying home until it’s very safe to go out ? Yes 100 % golf etc can wait.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Chris M April 26, 15:51

    Stay alive

    GOLF bit of fun

    Reply to this comment
    • Jimbo April 26, 22:14

      I believe, they could open up courses now. With careful planning and a booking system you could allow 4 balls to go off at 15 minute interval. The presence of people on the course will also help in the prevention of vandalism.

      Reply to this comment
  4. David W April 26, 14:06

    All clubs will need to put measures in place around social distancing when allowed to open. The lifting of restrictions will be a phased approach but with the implementation of testing and tracing, fairly soon, for general public then this could be a game changer for golf.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ian W April 26, 18:06

      I very much doubt it . Fairly soon ? Factual or just speculation. I’ve seen nothing from government to say things will change fairly soon. With 20k deaths it won’t be fairly soon. Not even close to passing the 5 factors needed to release lockdown. It’s very easy to find the average age of a golf club members or who plays once a week or more. It’s the age group that are warned to stay home.

      Reply to this comment
      • Colin April 26, 22:51

        There no logical reason why we can’t open up golf course’s.. with correct measures and some local rules we could get the benifit golf brings to participants. .I think your more at risk when shopping.

        Reply to this comment
  5. Chris M April 26, 11:51

    Won’t be till October

    Reply to this comment
  6. chaz April 26, 08:22

    The article says it all, people walking on the golf course, if they can walk all over the course why can’t 2 people play golf? Its madness

    Reply to this comment
  7. Adrian April 25, 14:54

    Most sensible comment I’ve read

    Reply to this comment
  8. Phil April 25, 09:31

    I’ve been a member of a course called Langdon hills for 6 years. It’s my form of exercise, it helps my lungs, I have a rare condition called abpa. I’m now going. Out on small bike rides to keep my lungs open but have noticed a difference to no swinging, swinging seems to loosen the mucus up, I think as long as your a member and can book a tee time there is no need to go in the club house. There should be a marshal on the tee box for your tee off time slot. Not touching anyone after I.E. shaking hands. I don’t understand why the courses are shut. People are more closer together in the shopping centres. I don’t mean this in a horrible way but most members are of a certain age which is the older generation at the course I play, and I think buy not letting them play their will be more health issues popping up in the future, golf can be socially distanced easily. It doesn’t make sense. Golf is not just a sport it helps people with difficulty conditions with there health

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