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Tauranga golfers keen to be back on the green

Golf has become more of a solitary affair during alert level three. File image/SunLive.

People’s recreation options opened up with the arrival of alert level three and while surfing and fishing are often a solitary sport, the social element of golf is still missing.

Under alert level three, golf courses are able to open but people must play alone or with members of their bubble.

Tauranga Golf Club head professional Jim Cusdin says a lot of people have been keen to get back out on the green but some people won’t play during level three because the social element is missing.

“A lot of people play golf to be social and love having a drink afterwards or socialising with their friends. We're expecting some of those people and already know that they just won't play during level three because that's not golf to them.

“But then on the flip side of that, you've got a lot of members, they've been cooped up for five weeks, they just want to get out there and get some fresh air and have some fun. Which has been quite cool seeing people and everyone’s happy and so far everyone is abiding to the rules.”

The Tauranga course reopened with strict new regulations on Tuesday, the club house and cafe remain closed and the pro shop can operate in a contactless way.

People can only play as groups of two and there are no pins on the green or tee blocks.

When golfers arrive they also have to register their details with the club or an app to show they have been there in case contact tracing for COVID-19 needs to be done.

Jim says the tee sheets the club released filled up in eight minutes, so they’re trying to ensure the members that want to can get in a round.

People also have to register to play as a single then contact the club to say they want to play with a partner and the club ensures they are in the same bubble, he says.

“It's always an evolving tee sheet and plan for us to see how we can put golfers on the golf course safely.

“At the same time too, we know that it's going to be limited in that two weeks [of level three] to try to look after everyone.”

Jim says with the time slots available a maximum of 50 to 60 people can play each day.

“There's a lot of singles out here today [April 28], so it's an eerie feeling, but the best thing is everyone's really happy and positive, they want to be out here.”

During lockdown when the course was closed to golfers a lot more people used it as an area for recreation.

Tauranga Golf Club manager Michelle Towersey says the course is a public reserve so people have always been able to use it they just need to be aware of golfers.

“They've loved the open spaces and there’s been lots of families walking and dogs and stuff.

“I'm personally surprised that the Greerton community didn't know that they were welcome there, and it's kind of sad really, but it's a great outcome of the lockdown.”

Jim says he wouldn’t encourage people to use the course for recreation when golf is being played because it could be a hazard but so far there haven’t been any issues.

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