Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Golf and tennis clubs get ready to welcome players

Golf and tennis clubs get ready to welcome players

GOLF and tennis club in the Henley area are preparing the groundwork so they can re-open as soon as the coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The Government has said that outdoor sports facilities can be used again from March 29, if conditions such as the continuing successful vaccine rollout have beeb met.

Clubs that have been forced to close for months due to the latest national lockdown are now busy preparing their greens and courts in readiness for the return of members.

All will be working to guidance issued by the sports’ governing bodes, Golf England and the Lawn Tennis Association, as to the form of play and the restrictions that must be in place.

Golfers will have the choice of playing in groups of up to four people while staying 2m apart at all times.

Clubhouses must remain closed but a takeaway service may be provided for the time being.

James Brockington, general manager of Henley Golf Club, said that members were “excited” to see the sport return.

He said: “We have got the whole team working to get the course ready for play. We have done our usual pre-season maintenance over the last couple of weeks and the weather will be a big factor over the next month. We are hoping for a warm month to help the grass grow.

“We have cored the greens to remove any thatch and added 60 tonnes of sand across all the greens to help them drain and play true.

“We have also upgraded some of our footpaths and done levelling of some of the teas that had become slightly uneven and reshaped some of the bunkers.

“If you speak to anyone who is a golfer when they are not playing it they miss it, although I think everyone understands the reason why and we are all really excited to get back out there and playing again.”

Marc Goodwin, business director at Badgemore Park Golf Club, said all four of its groundskeepers had been working to maintain the course throughout the lockdown.

He said: “We are going into a re-opening programme which focuses on getting the course reading for golfers.

“This includes the aeration and cutting down of the greens. They’ve also been doing some woodland maintenance and taking on some mini projects to improve the course. Last year we had new greens on the first and fifth holes and put in a new 800m practice area.”

Mr Goodwin said the club was well prepared to comply with the covid restrictions to ensure all players and staff are kept safe.

He said: “I think we’re grateful now that we’ve got some light at the end of the tunnel — it’ has been a shame not to have golfers on the course. We can social distance very easily but we understand we have to follow the guidelines and the safety of people is the priority.

“Last year, we produced a social distancing covid document and we sent that out to members and non-members who had to agree with it and we will update that for this time round. We also have hand sanitising points around the area. The golfers worked hard last year to adhere to the covid guidance.

“It has been a long wait to finally have a date to work towards. We’re hoping this will be the last forced closure but if there is another one we will deal with it but the latest route map out of lockdown seems to give us a strong process to finally end all restrictions so let’s hope that’s the case.”

Once restrictions are eased, recreational tennis outdoors can resume, including singles and doubles social play, one-on-one coaching and formally organised activity for groups, including group coaching.

The maximum group size and court ratios remain subject to confirmation. Indoor courts are to remain closed.

Colin Main, chairman of Henley Tennis Club, said: “Our courts are currently in a good condition and we will check them again a couple of days before we can re-open.

“Our head coach Tom Scott has been doing a great job with our members, sending out information and coaching advice on how to stay fit during the lockdown.

“As we get closer to re-opening, we will be sending out all the latest guidance because while we will be having some play, we will need to maintain social distancing and make sure people are regularly washing their hands.

“The members are keen to get back on the court and we will have a programme ready to go when the time comes.”

Dave Smith, chairman of Wargrave Tennis Club, said he thinks players will be restricted to groups of six, which was the case prior to the last lockdown.

He said: “We are anticipating that nothing is going to change between now at the March 29 and we are looking forward to being open again.

“We have had all the courts cleaned and the moss cleared so everything is being prepared. We are hoping that under these conditions the Berkshire league competition can start, which would be great.”

Vic Fry, chairman of Peppard Tennis Club, said: “We are planning to get up and running as soon as we are able to but we are waiting to be told the form we can play in terms of how many players in groups.

“We will be doing a clean-up job and making sure that the grass is cut and we have had new netting on all of the six courts so it is going to be the best condition it has been in for years.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say