GARDEN ROUTE GOLF NEWS - Local golfers joined thousands around the country for the comeback of amateur golf last weekend, returning to shake off the rust and have a "hack-about" at four of the five courses in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
Golfers and their clubs had been lying around at home gathering dust, rust, and losing touch since day 1 of the lockdown on 26 March, with golf consistently remaining prohibited as lockdown levels were lowered.
Uproar was sparked, however, when Level 3 was announced and regulations allowed for only the return of professional golf, not amateur, putting South Africa's golfing industry at a huge risk of suffering irreparable damages.
According to a Sport24 article published on 8 June, Golf RSA CEO Grant Hepburn stated that there was a possibility that 50% of golf courses around the country could face the possibility of closing if they were not allowed to open to amateur golfers in coming weeks.
After two-and-a-half months of lockdown, the cries of Golf RSA and the countless golfers in SA were finally heard by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and on Friday 12 June it was announced that amateur golf is once again allowed under strict regulations. When the announcement was made, local golf courses received floods of calls and bookings, but they were ready.
"We'd been preparing for the return of golf for a couple weeks, so when the announcement was made all we had to do was make bookings," said Knysna Golf Club resident professional Chris Dixon.
KGC was the first Knysna club to open, with golfers teeing off from 08:00 on Saturday 13 June, with Pezula Championship Course beginning again at 10:00. At Plettenberg Bay Country Club, golfers shook off their rust from 09:00 onward, and Goose Valley Golf Club started at 08:30. Simola Golf Estate opened again on Tuesday 16 June with tee-off times at 10:00, and according to CEO Avril Kaschula they will be assessing the demand to determine on which days of the week they will operate.
At KGC, the atmosphere was warm, friendly, and perfect for the return of golf. There was a huge sense of relief that wafted around the club as golfers saw familiar, friendly faces that they'd last seen prior to lockdown. A few of the men teeing off seemed relieved at this opportunity to break away, with some of the ladies also delighting in seeing their "golfing gals" again.
Andrew Jamieson, who was part of the first fourball to tee off at KGC, felt great to be on the course again. "Oh man, it was lekker. So, so lekker to be out playing golf again," he said.
Of course, strict regulations put in place by Golf RSA, have to be adhered to: golfers may not share golf carts (unless from the same household); bookings and payments should preferably be made online; no sharing of scorecards is allowed; a minimum 2m distance has to be maintained at all times on the course; and there is to be no picking up of stray golf balls, no touching of flag sticks and no shaking hands.
These are just a few of the regulations. There are also a number of policies put in place at individual clubs to further ensure the safety of players.
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