Golf courses to re-open on restricted basis on Monday

Local clubs welcome return to action.

After a couple of months of inactivity on the sporting front, the first sporting activities to resume will be golf, with local clubs set to open their doors again this Monday (May 18) as part of phase one of the country’s coronavirus exit plan.

While strict guidelines are in place, with play restricted to members only and only those who live within 5km of their club, a spokesperson for the GUI confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that it is not the clubs’ responsibility to “monitor or police the laws of the land” in relation to the travel restriction.

New protocols which all clubs will be following include restricting play to three-balls every 14 minutes, two-balls every 12 minutes or single golfers every 10 minutes; limiting the numbers of golfers on the course at any one time to 55 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing and only allowing play if booked in advance either online or by phone.

Driving ranges with covered bays will be closed until June 29 when phase three of the government’s exit plan kicks in.

Local clubs in Cavan have welcomed the return to action. Gordon Smyth, Head PGA Golf Professional and Golf Manager at PGA National Slieve Russell, stated that the club were happy to see their members return to the fairways but that restrictions would be in place.

“We will be following all the guidelines. We will only be open to members, who will be able to play in three-balls with 16-minute slots laid out,” he said.

“Pre-booking is essential because it’s important we know who is playing together. We have been asked to keep the names for six weeks to help with contact tracing should anything arise.

Meanwhile, Tony Gorby, PRO of Belturbet GC, confirmed that only paid-up members will be allowed to play and that the rule will be strictly enforced.

“There will be no club competitions for some time yet,” he said.

Clubs have had a lean time of late, with many collecting their memberships at the end of March each year, a date which fell right in the middle of the lockdown.

“However, there is general relief that some members will now have the opportunity to enjoy a round again.

“We are all delighted that golf is one of the first sports to be allowed to resume with the easing of the government restrictions. It will be great to return to playing.

“This is a privilege, and we must all ensure that we abide by the protocol published by the ILGU/GUI,” stated Virginia GC PRO Peadar Gill.

Virginia, in common with other clubs, will be operating a pre-booking system and observing physical distancing.

“This new way of playing golf may be strange at first and we would ask people to have patience.

“Inevitably there will be teething trouble with the booking system, but we will learn as we go along.

“We will continue to monitor and implement GUI/ILGU and public health advice . We intend to move cautiously at the start, so that we ensure golf can be played safely and that our members continue to enjoy the benefits of Virginia Golf Club.”

Some clubs have taken the opportunity to make improvements to their courses.

Virginia has invested recent Sports Capital Grant funding in new maintenance equipment and have renovated three tee boxes.

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