Golfers and Tennis players return to play on first day of restrictions easing

Social distancing will remain in place at any sports grounds that have reopened.

Tennis and golf were among the sports to resume today in Ireland as rules were relaxed as part of phase 1 of the Government's lockdown exit plan.

Numerous restrictions remained in place however and you had to live within 5km of the club.

The players at Naas Golf Club in Co Kildare were among the first to tee off.

One player says he missed talking to other players and friends.

"You miss the fun with the lads, the social interaction, the general talk about politics and sport, you miss all of that," he says.

It's not the same on Skype, it's not the same on Zoom.

Men’s captain at Naas Golf Club Ray Lynch says they have introduced numerous measures to ensure their members stay safe.

He says: "You won't see any rakes for instance in the bunkers. The flagstick will stay in. So normally you would take the flag out when the ball is going in. So you leave that in and normally you would play with four so in four balls.

"Every nine minutes a group would go away. So today it is in three balls and it is in every 14 minutes. So pretty much the first hole will be clear before the next group tee off.

"In terms of social distancing and keeping people apart it is very much designed around that."

Social distancing remained in place at any sports grounds that reopened.

Bunclody golf club also reopened today. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Bunclody golf club also reopened today. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Golfer Gay Nolan from Naas Golf Club was one of the first on course this morning.

He has been playing in his shed for the past few weeks.

"I cleaned the shed out and I was able to put in canvas and some astroturf. So I was able to pitch a few shots," he says.

Mr Nolan put the practise in as well saying he "hit an average of 100 golf balls a day."

Today he was hoping that some of how his extra work paid off.