RECORD numbers of tee time bookings and competition entries are being received by local golf clubs benefitting from the sport’s post-lockdown resumption.

Ludlow and Church Stretton golf clubs have both told the Advertiser they have been overwhelmed by enquiries since courses were allowed to reopen in the middle of last month.

Russell Price, professional at Ludlow Golf Club, believes the strict restrictions of the coronavirus lockdown might have opened some people’s eyes to the inclusivity and enjoyment of the sport.

He said: “We’ve been snowed under, it’s been pretty much non-stop. The course is full most days.

“We’ve just started to open up competitions at the end of this month and we’ve had almost double the entries there would be normally, from 80 to 160.

“Perhaps people who have taken golf for granted now realise what a healthy sport it is – it’s played outdoors in a nice, clean environment, you get exercise and social distancing is comfortable.

“So, people who can’t play other indoor sports at the moment or who are unable to be spectators at outdoor sports because of the restrictions, maybe they are realising it’s a great sport to play.”

Those sentiments were echoed by James Townsend, PGA professional at Church Stretton.

He said: “It’s been great to be back up and running and we’ve noticed a lot more people playing even on what would be our quieter days.

“We are really trying to push our junior section and they have been really enthusiastic to be back playing, perhaps with not being at school.”

Courses have had to adapt to new requirements, with players now forbidden to touch flags in holes and unable to use golf buggies.

Only two-balls – two players in a group – were initially allowed when restrictions were eased but that has now been waived, with three or four players allowed to go around in a group.

Townsend added: “It’s been really good to see how responsible everybody has been to the things we have put in place, not just members but visitors too.

“We’re trying to be safe, we’ve put in a booking system because we don’t want lots of people congregating at the same time, we’re encouraging people to change in the car park because the clubhouse is still not open.

“With the crowds we’ve had at Carding Mill Valley, which is about 200 yards away, the golf course has felt like a different world.”

Both clubs have accessed grants to lessen the financial impact of the shutdown but Price says it was a relief to reopen.

“We have had some help from the government, the same as others in the leisure and hospitality industry but bar sales and green fees were wiped out – they were worrying times but it seems much better now,” he added.