Golf clubs in Milngavie and Bearsden are ready to come out of lockdown
Golfers in Milngavie and Bearsden are all set for a return to their courses as light finally emerges at the end of sport’s Covid-19 tunnel.
After more than two months in lockdown, golf will be one of the sports back in action if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives the expected green light to the first of her four-phase route map today (Thursday).
And that will come as huge relief to both clubs and golfers who have been rapidly filling up tee-time slots ahead of tomorrow’s anticipated return of their sport, albeit under tight safety guidelines.
“Words can’t express how much we’re looking forward to it,” said Milngavie Golf Club development committee member Alan Dougan.
“Everyone is raring to go.
“We closed down the booking system - people were still booking on the off chance that the course was going to open, so they all had to be stripped out.
“The booking system was reset and opened again on Monday evening - with hundreds of people in Milngavie and Bearsden with fingers on the buttons of their smartphones.
“On the booking sheets there’s a plus beside each time that’s available and they were disappearing like snow off a dyke.”
While many ‘non-essential’ workers have been on furlough, most golf clubs have been able to keep on one full-time and one part-time member of their greenkeeping staff during lockdown, so most courses are in good condition.
“It’s obviously been frustrating to have been off for 10 weeks,” admitted Lindsay McCubbin, marketing representative at Milngavie’s Hilton Park Golf Club.
“But the green staff have been doing essential maintenance, within the guidelines, and it’s all looking good.
“It is important that you keep things cut every few days. If you leave it to grow for weeks and weeks you don’t get the same cut and smoothness of greens.”
Players will have to adhere to a variety of social distancing rules, such as staying two metres apart, one-way systems round clubhouses and going straight to and from car parks and tees.
Lindsay added: “Holes have also been adjusted so that you don’t have to put your hand into the hole. It’s all bounce games anyway so there will be lots of gimmes.
“But people will just be enjoying heading out onto the courses and appreciating what we’ve got.”
It’s a similar story at Bearsden Golf Club, whose captain Alan Duncan said: “The guidelines don’t prohibit it but we’ve decided we won’t be looking at competitive golf for a little while yet. We want to walk before we can run.”
He also said that, despite being closed, most courses have still fulfilled a function for the local community as locations for exercise.
He said: “The local community in the main have respected the course. The course has been very busy with walkers.
“I put a Facebook post up on Sunday night saying thanks to the community for being responsible and it’s the most looked at post we’ve ever had.”
Ann Scott, secretary of Douglas Park Golf Club in Bearsden, believes golf being in the spotlight may trigger a surge in interest in taking the sport up - and says the sport has a responsibility to manage its emerge from lockdown responsibly.
She said: “Lots of people seem to be looking at taking up golf as well, people are viewing it as a good social distance sport.
“The key thing is members’ and staff’s safety, we have to make sure that whatever we do is right.
“Golf is going to be in focus as one of the first sports out so we need to be seen to be making sure we adhere.”