‘We’re almost fully booked for the first two weeks’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 24, 2021 07:07

A number of English golf clubs have detailed how excited they are about the return of golf next week, following an absence that’s lasted nearly three months.

Rufford Park Golf Club in Nottinghamshire, for example, will be ‘bigger and better than ever before’ according to its director of golf, James Thompson.

“We are back bigger and better,” he said. “The course looks lovely and the owner has invested a lot on the course and remodelled greens and bunkers as well as the clubhouse.

“We have lost 24 weeks out of the last year, which is scary. If ever we had a lockdown again this is probably the best months it could have been.

“But it allowed us to get on with a lot of jobs around the course that we wouldn’t have had a chance to do.”

The first two weeks is almost entirely booked.

“We run a really tight booking system and we know what to expect from day one,” he added.

Rufford Park Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“At the moment it’s pretty full for the first two weeks. It’s going to be mental.

“It will be brilliant to see the smiles on faces again. It has been a tough lockdown with the poor weather and being inside.

“There will be some wild swings on the first tee, but people will be over the moon to be back.

“Golf is so important to a lot of people, as a lot of sports are.

“We keep in touch with the members a lot and they are so excited to get back to it.”

Buxton & High Peak Golf Club in Derbyshire says every tee time is already fully booked for the first day back.

“Despite the absence of play the members have remained loyal to the club and paid subscriptions in full,” said a spokesman.

“The latent eagerness to get going again means that every tee time on the 29th is already taken by a mixture of members and visitors.

“For head greenkeeper Steve Norton it’s been a very challenging, stop start, 12 months and he has been working through the winter to make sure the course will be fit and ready to welcome golfers back to the links.

“A wet and snowy winter has not helped. During the last three lockdown months the club has welcomed the public to walk the fairways.

“The vast majority of the public have respected and enjoyed access to the course, although bags of rubbish, damage from joyriders and snowmen on greens have been somewhat less appreciated by Steve and his staff.”

Sheringham Golf Club. Image from Facebook

Neil Milton, general manager at Sheringham Golf Club in Norfolk, said his club was “very much looking forward” to welcoming golfers back onto the course.

He said: “It’s been quite a period of time without golfers on the course so we’re looking forward to returning to some sort of normality.

“Golf is in demand, the fact that people can’t travel means it’s in demand both from members and visitors. It’s hard to say [if there’s been an increase in people playing] we do have an uptick in enquiries but whether those are people coming from other sports. We’re expecting a busy season down to the fact that people cannot travel so much.”

Ryan Pudney, director of golf at Mundesley Golf Club also in Norfolk, added: “We’re very excited to get open again, it’s been a long period this lockdown, probably more so because of the weather, shorter days, longer nights. The general feeling I have got from all our members is that they are itching to get out there, it’s always good to see people out there and we’ve certainly missed our members.

“Last season was as busy as I have ever seen, we had close to 150 membership enquiries after lockdown last year because golf was one of the only sports where you could safely social distance outside. Golfers really took advantage of that so we had a massive boom in under 40s a lot of those were probably not new to golf.”

Image from Facebook

Antrobus Golf Club in Cheshire’s secretary, Jill Cordingley, said of the reopening: “Extremely excited, we can hardly wait, beside ourselves.

“It’s not particularly quiet at the moment. We’ve got lots of interest from people wanting to play golf; members, visitors and societies.

“We’re obviously trying to look after the members initially, but visitors will be welcome as soon as we can.”

And she joked: “While we do reopen, I expect it to be mental. I think I’ll be bringing my duvet here.

“It’s put a lot of pressure on us financially. But we are keen to start again, and we are keen to hopefully move forward.”

St Annes Old Links in Lancashire is equally excited.

Secretary Jane Donohoe said: “The members are champing at the bit to get back on the course.

“We’ve seen them walking past on a daily basis to see how the course is looking.

“We reopen the day after the clocks go forward, which helps us because longer days should make it less challenging to get a tee-time.

“We have enough slots for 320 people per day playing fourball.

“We aren’t planning any restrictions this time on the number of rounds people can book per week because we should be able to accommodate everyone.

St Annes Old Links. Image from Facebook

“The course is in fantastic condition after a reasonable winter, unlike the one last year.

“We’ve been able to get on with projects and the team have been able to work very hard while the course has been closed.

“The fairways have made a great recovery and work has taken place to keep them well drained.

“We’ve discovered another old well – there are a lot around the course – and we’ve purchased a tractor and a water bowser.

“The objective is to keep the course well drained, with our own irrigation system reducing our dependence on piped water.”

The Trafford Golf Centre driving range is also excited about reopening.

Pete Styles, director of golf, said: “It’s fantastic to announce the reopening of Trafford Golf Centre, we can’t wait to welcome back the public. As an outdoor, sporting attraction, we offer a safe environment and a space for players to stay fit and healthy.

Trafford Golf Centre

“Whether you’re a regular player, or someone simply looking for a fun and active day out, we’re ready to welcome you. All of the relevant Covid-19 safety measures have been implemented, such as designated time slots and social distancing, ensuring a safe day out is enjoyed by all.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 24, 2021 07:07
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