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Coronavirus: No club competitions and certain restrictions, but NI golfers welcome a return to the fairways

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Liam Cahill looks on as Michael O’Hanlon, wearing a protective visor, plays at Howth Golf Club in Dublin

Liam Cahill looks on as Michael O’Hanlon, wearing a protective visor, plays at Howth Golf Club in Dublin

AFP via Getty Images

Alan O’Sullivan at Howth Golf Club in Dublin

Alan O’Sullivan at Howth Golf Club in Dublin

AFP via Getty Images

Liam Cahill looks on as Michael O’Hanlon, wearing a protective visor, plays at Howth Golf Club in Dublin

Golfers are teeing up again as they return to the fairways after the Stormont Executive confirmed restrictions for club members would be eased from Wednesday.

Last week, the five-step plan to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown had indicated non-contact sports such as golf, angling and tennis would be among the first sports to return as part of phase one.

The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) has stipulated that no club competitions can take place and only members are allowed on to the course.

There will be no travel restriction, but players should not travel to courses in the same vehicles as people from outside their own households, not arrive at clubs more than 15 minutes before their tee-time and leave the club immediately after their round is finished.

The GUI said golfers should play in groups of no more than three players, although individual clubs can further limit those numbers, and can play with people from outside their own households providing social distancing is observed.

The easing of restrictions was welcomed by North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne.

"This gives existing club members an opportunity to get out in the fresh air, engage in a sporting activity which will benefit their physical and mental wellbeing," the Economy Committee member said.

"Golf courses are large well maintained open green spaces, and compliance with social distancing and hygiene requirements can be managed and controlled.

"I pay tribute to local clubs for their adherence to regulations. I know the financial strain that many were and continue to be under and this will only be sustained by everyone being sensible."

Belfast Telegraph