Waterford GC Captain Paul Long welcoming Michael and Martin Howlett on the return to golf this morning (Monday, Apri 26) following the four month closure due to the pandemic.
The latest easing of Level 5 Covid 19 restrictions will come as a welcomed relief for sports lovers from today (Monday) as golfers all over Waterford are back on the tee boxes, tennis players are back on the courts, and outdoor training can resume for all under 18 players in pods of 15.
Since the initial lockdown back on March 25, 2020, golf courses in the country have been closed for a total of 210 days out of the last 397, and finally lovers of the sport can return to their local course, but only if they are a member with green fees for the casual player still not allowed on the course.
At Waterford Golf Club, the booking system for all members come back into force from last Friday, and they’ve welcoming back their members as of this morning, and there was good news for golf club members, who need to cross county boundaries within a 20km radius of their home.
The resumption of golf is broadly welcomed by Golf Ireland, who have reminded golfers that courses are open to members only for casual golf with no club competitions or opens, tee times to be booked in advance, and bars and restaurants in golf courses to remain closed with clubhouses allowed open for toilet facilities only.
There is some good news for pitch and putt lovers in Waterford as well with the Waterford RSC announcing that the pitch and putt course will also be open from today Monday with the public requested to book by text on 0879284130 and from Monday by phone on 051-849908, with all booking to be made in advance.
Golf isn’t the only sport that has been allowed to return from today (Monday) as outdoor tennis facilities across Waterford and Ireland have reopened for all members, while approved Tennis Ireland Programmes including Parks tennis or Enjoy Tennis.
There will be a number of rules associated with the return of tennis with singles only allowed, but doubles can be played once partners are from the same household. All members of tennis clubs are asked to book their courts in advance, and are allowed to travel to play once they are 20km from their home if they live outside.
With all clubhouses to remain closed except for the use of the toilet facilities, players are reminded to arrive ready to play, with the easing of restrictions for the sport coming as a welcome boost for all connected with the game.
There’s no doubting the big one in the latest easing of restrictions comes for the thousands of under 18 players that will be allowed to return to outdoor non-contact training in pods of 15, which is the first phase before focus turns to when competitive games can resume later in the year.
GAA, soccer, and rugby training can resume in pods of 15 (13 players and two coaches), with all clubs putting together strict protocols for their safe return. The GAA and FAI have issued safer return to training guidelines in the past week with players and coaches allowed travel 20km from their home on the county borders.
This will be also welcomed news for the Waterford FC academy teams that are allowed to officially return at Under 14, 15 and 17 level, and whilst Under 19 is strictly not allowed, under 19 players are allowed train with the first team of the League of Ireland clubs once they are signed.
Players or Coaches aren’t allowed attend training for any teams if they live outside of the 20km from their home in another county as travel restrictions remain in place. The big thing though is that these players are now back on the training pitch, which should be welcomed.
It’s understood that the FAI are set to issue further advice to the local leagues at Schoolboy and Junior league level on whether the 2020/21 seasons should be scrapped or continued when it’s safe to do so. The return of adult training is still prohibited, but that is set to be addressed in the latest announcement on Thursday.
Basketball, boxing and other indoor sports will have to wait for their return, whilst underage athletics training is also allowed under the new guidelines. Welcome back to one and ball and enjoy it.