‘Golf is the centre of their world’

AMID blanket cancellations and postponements covering almost every available sport in Jersey, golf courses are keeping their greens open this week in an attempt to limit isolation-led declines in mental health.

Royal Jersey Golf Club members competed for the Maine Cup on Saturday Picture: JON GUEGAN
Royal Jersey Golf Club members competed for the Maine Cup on Saturday Picture: JON GUEGAN

Government-backed social-distancing measures were upgraded to include all Islanders on Friday, advising against all unessential interaction with people outside your household in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, a number of outdoor activities are still viewed as acceptable, including countryside walking, and golf clubs are among those keen to remain active to offer a slither of normality – particularly for their older regulars.

‘For a lot of our members the golf club is their heartbeat – it’s the centre of their world. So we have to continue as normal as possible for them,’ said Royal Jersey GC’s general manager Darren Attwood.

‘People could start getting cabin fever if they can’t get out.’

The Grouville links remains open to members for daily rounds and weekly competitions, albeit with a number of restrictions and alterations in place. Social distancing is strongly promoted – advising players to remain more than one metre apart – while visitors are not permitted and the club’s bar and restaurant is closed.

‘Golf is probably the one of the safest activities people can still do because it’s out in the open air and obviously it’s non-contact,’ said Attwood. ‘You can walk down the fairway and still have a chat with one another while staying more than one metre apart.

‘We have taken away bunker rakes and asked players to smooth the sand as best they can with their sand wedges and they’re able to putt with the flag still in. It means they don’t need to touch any hard surfaces which could transmit the virus.’

He added: ‘We made a decision to close the clubhouse from last Wednesday morning to look after everyone and our clubhouse staff are now helping out in other areas, like out on the course repairing divots.

‘We have also split our groundstaff into two teams. Teams “A” and “B” will have no contact with each other so that if someone gets ill the other team can continue maintaining the course.’

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