There is delight for golf club members as courses reopen

By Hayden Moore

THERE may be no handling the flagstick, no raking of bunkers, no four-balls, or no customary handshake, but golf has swung back into action as part of the governments first phase de-escalation from restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Golf has been welcomed back with open arms by clubs around South Dublin as they open for the first time since late-March, when they were recommended to shut by the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU).

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Padge Byrne, Barnie Kavanagh and Ben Kavanagh in picturesque Slade Valley Golf Club on Monday

Golf courses were listed for re-opening from May 18 as an outdoor public sports amenity by the government once they adjust to observe social distancing measures.

The GUI and ILGU set out a protocol for re-introducing golf, with them capping games to three players per tee-off with timesheets restricted to 10, 12- or 14-minute intervals – depending on the number of golfers.

Play is for members only, who live within a 5km radius of the course, and is restricted to casual play only.

“There was great excitement to reopen, people were really just delighted to get back out onto the golf course again – all abiding by the protocols and the guidelines set out by the unions and the government of course,” says General Manager of Newlands Golf Club, Margaret Quinn.

“All of the members are very respectful of the rules because they know what it’s all about, and are adhering to them totally.”

While many clubs were reporting jam-packed timesheets, Slade Valley Golf Club were happy to report that there’s was not and were full of excitement for their return of golf.

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Paul Byrne and Brendan Maguire in Slade Valley on Monday

“We’re delighted to get the go ahead from the unions and the government to get back playing golf,” says President of Slade Valley, Niall Tallon.

“It’s the beginning of a return to some sort of normality.

 “Our members are really just happy to be playing, having socially social distanced interactions – it’s giving them a huge lift.

“We’re really looking forward to June 8, when the 5km travel limit extends to 20km, and the majority of our members can return.

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Paul Crone and Jim Clarke enjoying a round of golf in Slade Valley

“All rules are designed to ultimately protect ourselves and thankfully the numbers are going in the right way.”

Rathfarnham Golf Club are opening their timesheets for booking in three-day increments, with the first three days filling up within three-minutes of re-opening for business.

A spokesperson from Rathfarnham Golf Club told The Echo of their delight to see players back out on the course for the first time since March 23.

“We’re really just glad that some activity can resume and that golf is a part of that. It’s fantastic for our members and something positive during this time,” they said.

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Dave Fitzsimons and Noel O’Halloran in Slade Valley

“We are taking a lot of precautions in accordance with the government’s advice and it’s not so much the golf as our members would have been used to before everything that’s happened, but they adjusted their methods accordingly.

“We acknowledge that there are a lot of our members who can’t come back playing golf yet because the 5km radius from their home doesn’t extend this far or they’re over 70 and listening to governments advice to not play golf.

“It’s something different than what we’ve all being doing over the past few months and let’s hope there will be some normality restored soon and we can all get back out on the course.”

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