IN THEIR BUBBLE: Wetini and Gayle Mokomoko set off for a round of golf at Ohope. Photo Troy Baker D9819-31

A FEW duffed shots and plenty of divots were expected at golf courses in the region after they re-opened to members following a five-week hiatus, due to level four Covid-19 restrictions.

Eastern Bay golf club members are now allowed back on their local course but the way they play their golf in the next couple weeks will be somewhat different to how they played it before the lockdown.

There are no golf flags on the course, they have been removed, so golfers now have to aim for the centre of the green where the cup will be, albeit upside down and just under ground level, so balls are easy to be picked up.

Whakatane has added a foam piece to its flag holes to allow the pins to remain in and so golfers are able to pick up their balls without needing to move the flag.

Scores could also be lower but won’t officially count and putting attempts halved as there are two-foot gimmies in place for the players to help limit contact with the golf hole.

Ohope Golf Club manager Lee-Anne Clark reports a strong response from members.

“I have had quite a few phone calls over the last week about whether we’d be open and what golfing under level three might look like.

“We were booked out by members for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, who are itching to get back out and have a hit.”

Clark said it would be good seeing golfers back on the course and she was confident they would all stick to the government guidelines and play in pairs or individuals.

“They’re just excited to get back out there.”

Whakatane Golf Club secretary Teresa Doggett said they were excited to see people back golfing.

“We’re open. Members have been booking online and it looks like they’re keen to get back out there and have a hit.”

Like Ohope Golf Club and all others around New Zealand, Whakatane is enforcing 10 minute tee-off times between bubbles, pairs and singles golf-only. No scores will count towards handicaps, so anyone trying to get their handicap down was out of luck. Golfers must turn up 10 minutes before their round and then leave immediately after.

“People seem to be doing that pretty well,” Doggett said.

All clubrooms, water fountains, toilets, pro shops etc will remain closed on the courses.

“We will just keep working away looking to continue maintenance on the course to hopefully open under level two, if possible,” Doggett said.

Whakatane Golf Club’s Harry Waters, who has been playing since 1981, said he was loving being back out on the course getting fresh air.

”Especially loving the ability to walk around the course once again.”