Return to golf
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GOLF WELCOMED BACK TO STRABANE Gary O'Connell
Over a year since the onset of the initial Covid-19 lockdown, Thursday last saw an eagerly awaited return to golf at courses and clubs throughout Northern Ireland as the most recent period of restrictions were finally eased.
An initially proposed 6-week lockdown period which came into effect on Christmas Eve was a bitter pill to swallow for golfers far and wide. But with further extensions applied in reaction to case numbers of the virus continuing to trend in the wrong direction, the six weeks quickly turned into three months plus…not that there was anything quick about that time period for the members who were unable to play.
As such, it was not surprising to hear the odd suspicion raised that the return date of April Fool’s Day was more than a coincidence. Thankfully all was well, and Strabane GC were delighted to reopen the gates last week to their members who were only too glad to get back into the swing of things.
With many members taking advantage of an early Easter break, tee times were as expected at a premium. This was also compounded by the latest round of restrictions requiring that the guidance of a maximum of two households also be complied with. As such, most tee times were restricted to two-balls, bar the odd three-ball and four-ball who live together.
Upon the resumption, members got the chance to see the results of a lot of hard work which has been undertaken (and recently communicated to members through internal newsletters) by Paul and his greens staff throughout this latest closure.
Whilst their level of effort, commitment and expertise should never be questioned, it would be remiss not to highlight the huge support provided by a volunteer team of our own membership who have rowed in behind in recent months. This ‘craic team’ provided much welcome support with some of the upgrade and maintenance works, from grass cutting to fence and sign painting to bunker levelling.
One of the most notable (and welcome from this guy’s personal point of view!) programmes which has been ongoing has been the tree maintenance. A number of trees, hedges and particularly low-lying limbs have been extensively trimmed back and tidied. As someone who visits more than their fair share of the woods in an average round and is only too familiar with old Rick O’Shea, this has been very well received!
Installation of drainage channels, relaying of pathways and a redesign of the car park layout to help alleviate the overflow experienced on busy days have all also been carried out.
Said drainage works are ongoing on the first hole, and as a result some of the fanfare of the return was slightly lost with the removal of hitting that opening tee shot. This may have been no bad thing for many however who haven’t swung a club in 3 months!
It is fair to say though that the standard of golf is likely to be of little importance to most, as a level of gratitude and contentment to just be back on the fairways, and even in the rough and bunkers for that matter, is clearly evident from those who have been back out.
Whilst the requirement for the cessation of golf at all could be argued at length, given the obvious multiple benefits it provides for physical and mental wellbeing in a responsible manner and a safe environment, the Executive decision was made above the heads of any individual club and even our respective governing bodies.
One thing we can hope is that we continue in the right direction on this road to recovery and proceed to enjoy playing the game. The next step on that process is scheduled for this coming Monday 12th April when the two-household limit is hoped to be lifted. This will allow for the return of fourballs and subsequently relieve some of the pressure on the demand for tee-times.
Whilst the return of guests and visitors is yet to be confirmed we will remain open to members only for now, and whilst social golf will also continue, a return to competitive action is also being considered for as soon as possible.
Any further updates which may arise from discussions between the Executive and our governing bodies, for example in relation to reopening our clubhouse facilities, will be circulated through internal communications and social media channels. For now, we commend our membership and their general attitude towards the measures which we have installed in and around the club. We ask all to remind themselves of the importance of these steps as we strive to help allow our game to continue for as long as is deemed safely possible.
In ‘away news’, all eyes this week turn to Augusta National, where the world’s best hope to be draped in green come Sunday night. As is now tradition, the Masters Sweepstake is now open with selections required before play commences. Anyone interested in taking part can contact the club for further details.

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