330 clubs in the Republic of Ireland opened their courses - but not their doors - as golfers returned to action under strict social distancing rules.
Only members who live within 5km of their club were allowed to play on Monday on the first day of Phase 1 of the Irish government’s Roadmap for Reopening of Society and Business.
Clubs nationwide reported huge interest though numbers were naturally limited by the travel restrictions in place.
Golfing Union of Ireland Communications manager Alan Kelly said: “Golfers are very lucky to be back playing in the first stage of the roadmap. In fact, it is a privilege to be in this position.
“We should be thankful and grateful to all the frontline workers that have done so much that allows us, as a country, to be in the position where golf can be played.”
He added: “We cannot take any of this for granted. There is now a huge responsibility on every golf to observe social distancing, ensure good hand hygiene, and to ensure that all the protocols in place are followed and observed.”
Some of the rules in force today meant that all bookings for tee times had to be made online or by telephone with increased intervals between tee times.
Clubhouses, bars, and restaurants remained closed during this first phase with access to the pro shop only for check-in purposes. Toilet facilities were accessible along with locker rooms for the retrieval of equipment but golfers were instructed to arrive at courses just five minutes before their tee time and leave directly after their rounds.
Golf Ireland CEO, Mark Kennelly, added that the new regulations had proven successful.
He explained: "The feedback to date is that the return to play protocols set out by national governing bodies have worked well. While very happy that our sport is one of the first to be allowed to resume, we are acutely conscious that the country is still going through a major public health emergency and that remains our overriding priority. The national governing bodies urge all golfers to continue to fully comply with the safe golf protocols and to public health advice from the government and health authorities."
Club competitions will not be permitted until Phase 2 comes into force on June 8.