English golf course that allowed walkers reopens

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 16, 2020 05:39

A Manchester golf venue that allowed walkers to use its course during the lockdown has now reopened – but didn’t do so immediately at least partly because it was clearing up the damage that they caused, according to reports.

Altrincham Golf Course is a council-run venue and during the lockdown it became a public park, but the damage caused from this ‘made it impossible to open on the same day’ as most other courses in England did, ITV News has claimed.

(See the update at the bottom of this article, which details that the venue reopened just a few hours after we published this article).

The 100-acre course had been used by a large number of people for walking and cycling during the lockdown, a time when many golf courses reported issues with walkers not respecting their venues.

“Sadly we’ve had young people playing football, which was clearly not in line with the government’s guidance on social distancing,” Tim Dibble, secretary of the club, told ITV News.

“There’s been a lot of work to do to bring the course back up to standard. It’s sad, because this is the only course in the area that is pay-and-play.”

Trafford Leisure, a non-profit wholly owned by Trafford Council, manages the golf course.

Jo Cherrett, Trafford Leisure’s chief operating officer, said it was now considering how to transition the course “back to a space predominantly used for golf”.

She said: “We are pleased to announce that Altrincham Golf Course will be reopening shortly, once we have had the opportunity to deliver staff training with updated clear rules of play and current health and safety guidance.

Volunteers have been helping Altrincham GC maintain its bunkers in the last few days. Image from Facebook

“We want to make sure the course, and our team, is ready for socially distanced play and we will do all that we can to ensure you feel safe.”

She added: “Our local community has enjoyed using the golf course for physical activity during this closure and it is important that we consider this alongside our plans to reopen. We are communicating with our wider community to ensure the transition back to a space predominantly used for golf is harmonious.

“Since the prime minister’s announcement, the interest from our members, golfers and others sport-lovers in Trafford has been tremendous; so many people craving some kind of sport. Like you, we are excited to open our doors – it won’t be long! We can’t wait to welcome you back and help you to enjoy your summer golf.”

Cherrett added: “Unlike most private courses, our golf course is accessible to everyone, and previously enjoyed by people from the age of five to 95.

“When we open, you can be assured that your safety, hand in hand with the enjoyment of being active, is at the heart of all our decisions.”

Altrincham Golf Club has issued a statement saying it still doesn’t know when it will reopen – and this is against a backdrop of several people contacting Trafford Leisure to ask that the course remains open only to walkers rather than golfers.

It said: “Unfortunately, we are still awaiting an announcement from Trafford Leisure as to when and how the course will be opened.

“This is disappointing to all members and visitors alike and we appreciate you understanding during this challenging time but we hope to be back on the course real soon.

“To those that are able to play other courses today, welcome back and play safe.”

There are positive stories about golf clubs that allowed walkers on them reopening, however.

Reading and Caversham Heath golf clubs have said they’ve been inundated with messages of gratitude.

Spokesman for both, Gary Stangoe, said: “Our sincere thanks to all for the huge volume of positive emails and even some cards and chocolates which will be passed to our greenstaff.

“We are so pleased the courses have been used and appreciated.

“We do have a few who perhaps haven’t heard about the change and have had a near miss or two with flying golf balls so we will be putting out some new signs to remind all.

“It’s been fun to share in what seems to have been a positive part of lockdown over the last eight weeks or so.

“Once again, on behalf of all of the members of Reading and Caversham Heath, thank you.”

Walkers who had enjoyed the space have been thanking owners, commenting on the post with photos they had taken on the grounds.

Mehru Asad said: “Thank you. My family has loved enjoying the beautiful views and it greatly helped to lift the spirits of our little ones”, while David Larsen added: “Thank you for the use of Caversham Heath the past weeks.”

Oliver Hackett said: “Thank you so much to Reading and Caversham Heath, it’s been brilliant to have been able to have a complete change of scenery during these very difficult times.

“My two young girls have memories which I’m sure they will look back on with great fondness from the year 2020 when everything stopped. Thanks again.”


Update: We posted this story in the early hours of Saturday morning, and shortly after Altrincham Golf Course announced the course is now ready and the club has reopened.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 16, 2020 05:39
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  1. Peter May 16, 17:00

    So very sad to see ! In cases where the community has “trashed” the course, we found the Club had no community involvement and participation ! Some, where social elites gather, often forget their role with their primary markets !! Clubs and courses that are normally “closed” to the public, also have an obligation to “teach” and “inform” people, where and where not to wander !

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sam May 16, 12:42

    So many courses in Scotland are being used as ‘public parks’ and although there may be some unusual wear and tear it’ll be interesting to see if any don’t re-open as a result of the damage ‘they’ caused.

    Reply to this comment
    • Debbie May 19, 10:19

      From what I have seen people who have been using them as parks has been widely respecting them. Fingers crossed!

      Reply to this comment
  3. TWG May 16, 12:35

    We have only been allowed to conduct essential maintenance anyway, bunker work was not included in that according to government guidelines

    Reply to this comment
  4. Tim K May 16, 10:31

    Wow how aweful they actually planted all those weeds in the bunkers !!!!! You just make the bunkers GUR and kids playing football has caused that much damage really what where they wearing Pit Boots.

    Come on guys sort your reporting out it’s a council muni that the council contractor has left to its own devices.

    Reply to this comment
  5. GL PGA May 16, 10:02

    I’m sure ITV news filmed a guy teeing off there on Wednesday? I could be wrong….. !

    Reply to this comment
    • Declan May 16, 12:05

      That was Dunham Forest G&CC close by.

      Reply to this comment
    • Rory Mac May 16, 18:12

      Tim K , there is at least 2 massive fields that’s accessible without the need to go on the golf course and even if you were to go on the golf course why is it ok for kids to play in bunkers , weeds or no planted weeds in them ? I have not read or heard anyone thanking Trafford Leisure for letting people use the course for exercise during the past two months , what i have read is selfish people wanting to keep the golf course as a recreational haven for them with no regard to its paying members or paying public . Its a golf course first and foremost , regardless if its a municipal or private . Ps , the green keepers manage the course , not a contractor !!!

      Reply to this comment
  6. Declan May 16, 09:15

    Get down there & sort that out Danny – many’s an enjoyable round over there ‍♂️

    Reply to this comment
    • Danny May 16, 12:45

      I’ve been down there a lot since lockdown began it’s part of my daily walk. There have been loads of people using it but I haven’t noticed any real damage to the course. Its council run so they will be slow to reopen. Have you been playing this week?

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