Social distancing is key to the return of golf.Picture: IAN BURT.

GOLF: The first sport to get back into the swing of action after the coronavirus lockdown is golf.

West Norfolk clubs celebrated the relaxation of social distancing rules by the government by reopening their courses this week.

After weeks in lockdown, members have been allowed back on the fairways at King’s Lynn Golf Club.

Within minutes of the tee booking system opening on Tuesday morning, general manager Richard Jessop said the first six days’ play were almost fully booked.

Following strict guidelines and social distancing, two balls and singles will only be allowed to play on the course but this will be monitored over time.

The clubhouse will remain closed.

Middleton Hall Golf Club owner Mike Johnson said the course was due to open yesterday.

“We hope to be able to open the clubhouse in July but the course and pro shop are both open,” he said.

Tee times have to be booked on the club’s booking system with a 10-minute interval – for members only.

The R&A governs the sport worldwide and a spokesman said: “The government has provided clarification on outdoor recreation and rules on social distancing.”

Under new government rules, the following groupings are now permitted:

Individuals playing on their own.

Two-balls comprising of individuals from different households

At the discretion of the golf club, members of the same household playing in two, three or four-balls.

Social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to at all times.

Further clarification is being sought relating to retail and driving ranges, as well as the carrying out of club fitting and coaching sessions.”

The relaxation does not apply to clubhouses yet so the ‘19th hole’ will remain closed and golfers must not linger in the car park after their games to discuss near misses, the ones that got away or great shots, etc.

Other outdoor sports facilities are also allowed to reopen, under the strict social distancing rules. These include tennis and basketball courts, bowling greens and similar venues where non-contact sports take place.