Golfers swarm back to courses at Level 3

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Dunedin golfers are “loving” being back on the course.

Taieri Lakes Golf Course manager Paul Barlow said there were 240 bookings last week golfers were allowed back.

Golf clubs were closed during Level 4 and were able to open at Level 3 with some restrictions in place.

This included golfers playing by themselves or with others in their bubble, compulsory booking ahead of time (to ensure contact tracing) and keeping a 2m distance from others.

At Taieri, only club members could play during Alert Level 3.

Barlow said club facilities were closed and the club had taken the flags out of the holes, removed the rakes from the bunkers and removed the ball washers. There were also no score cards.

Essentially, anything that people might touch, he said.

“Basically, they go out, hit their own golf ball and that’s it.

“We’re not back to full golf yet but we’ve got people on the course now.

“They’re loving it.”

Barlow said there had been a fair bit of cabin fever around, so getting out on the golf course was a good way to relieve that.

“It’s not true golf — we don’t have flags or things like that — but they’re playing something.

“They’re going for a walk, they’re hitting the ball and they’re very, very happy to,” he said.

Some people would see other golfers on the course and want to play with them, but could not, he said.

“The hard thing is for people to play in their own bubble.

“They have been loving it, especially with the good weather.”

Chisholm Links Golf Club golf professional Allan Court said during the week the course had been busier than usual.

Golfer Steve Armitage plays at the Chisholm Links Golf Club yesterday. PHOTO: ALLAN COURT

“It’s been very busy,” he said.

Although there was some confusion at the start of Level 3, most people were sticking to their bubble.

Those with questions about it were soon on board.

“People are very aware that they don’t want to be seen doing the wrong thing.”

The club was getting information about what golf would look like when New Zealand moved into Level 2.

“We’re looking forward to that.”

St Clair Golf Club golf professional Patrick Moore said on the first day it took a while for people to get into the swing of booking in and checking in when they arrived.

But since then, the course was almost full every day last week.

Some days, people had to be turned away, he said.

“People are pretty happy to be playing some kind of golf, even though it’s not traditional golf.”

The club was allowing visitors to play by paying green fees, as long as they booked in by calling or emailing.

“It’s quite time-consuming — more so than normal,” he said.

He expected this would ease off as the country continued to move down alert levels.

Island Park Golf Club greenkeeper Michael Minty said the first day of Level 3 was “pretty busy” and people were happy to be back playing.

Club members had pulled together to patrol the office to make sure the members-only policy was adhered to, he said.

“Everyone has been playing ball.”

The club had also followed guidelines to minimise risk at the course.

He knew of a lot of casual golfers who did not have memberships who were “itching” to play again.

Missing the social side was also a huge aspect for some people.

“A round of golf takes probably three and a-half hours but you’ll find that most of them allocate five or six hours to a round of golf,” he laughed.