Golfers return to the fairways as courses reopen

Tomás Ó Sé and Leona Maguire were among the golfers taking to the fairways of Ireland on Monday.
Golfers return to the fairways as courses reopen

Captain Paul Nolan re-opening play at Faithlegg Golf Club, Waterford, flanked at a social distance by Neil McGrory (Captain ex officio) and Mel Morgan.
Captain Paul Nolan re-opening play at Faithlegg Golf Club, Waterford, flanked at a social distance by Neil McGrory (Captain ex officio) and Mel Morgan.

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.

Irish professional golfer Leona Maguire hits her second shot on the 3rd hole, watched by her twin sister and former professional golfer Lisa Maguire, during a round of golf at Slieve Russell Golf Club in Cavan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Irish professional golfer Leona Maguire hits her second shot on the 3rd hole, watched by her twin sister and former professional golfer Lisa Maguire, during a round of golf at Slieve Russell Golf Club in Cavan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

“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.”

GAA commentator and Kerry football great Tomás Ó Sé drives off at Fota Island Golf Resort on the first day of the relaxation of Covid-19 constraints. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
GAA commentator and Kerry football great Tomás Ó Sé drives off at Fota Island Golf Resort on the first day of the relaxation of Covid-19 constraints. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

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.

A member of the public preparing to play at Bunclody Golf Club, Wexford. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
A member of the public preparing to play at Bunclody Golf Club, Wexford. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

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.

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