Golfers back on course

Many of Dunedin's golf clubs are open in Level 3.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
Many of Dunedin's golf clubs are open in Level 3.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
There are a lot of happy golfers this week.

Dunedin’s golf courses, like other sports facilities, were closed for play during Alert Level 4 but are allowed to reopen in Level 3, with restrictions.

Golf New Zealand released its guidelines on Tuesday afternoon and advised clubs to take a cautious approach.

The guidelines included: Golfers had to play alone or with people in their bubble, pins and flags were be removed from the course and practice putting green, rakes were be removed from the bunkers, and golfers had to socially distance from others outside their bubble.

Taieri Lakes Golf Course manager and PGA professional Mike Ormandy said bookings for yesterday and Saturday filled up quickly.

Saturday was members’ day, so he expected to see many golfers out on the course.

‘‘They won’t be able to enjoy a beer afterwards, that’s all,’’ he said.

The clubhouse was closed to non-staff members and golfers had to leave straight after their round.

Essential maintenance was allowed during Level 4, so the course was in good condition for the golfers’ return.

‘‘I think the golf course has enjoyed having a week break from everyone walking over it.’’

Ormandy worked at Otago Golf Club after last year’s lockdown and said there was a boom in memberships after it.

That flowed on to people then booking golf lessons and buying new equipment.

‘‘It’s quite a big snowball.

‘‘It’s exciting to see what happens.’’

St Clair Golf Club golf professional Patrick Moore said the club had picked up about 100 new members since last year’s lockdown.

He put that down to people having more flexible work hours and being able to play more often, and young people missing out on their winter sports.

If people were suddenly able to play more regularly, it was more cost-effective to join a club.

‘‘I don’t know what will happen now, we might see another resurgence.’’

Golfers were definitely keen to get back on the course in Level 3.

Bookings opened mid-morning on Tuesday and were half-full about an hour later.

‘‘People will be chomping at the bit to get out there.’’

Otago Golf Club general manager Shelley Duncan also expected to see another boom in popularity after this lockdown.

People were keen to book a tee time and get back on the course in Level 3.

Golf was one of the first sports to operate post-lockdown and people felt safe playing because they were in a wide open space with people in their bubble, she said.

During Level 4, the club allowed members to walk on the course but it was now off limits.

‘‘It will be back to the golfers on the golf course.’’

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