DOWN THE MIDDLE: Paul Robinson, of the Ohope Golf Club, watches his drive during a round on Tuesday. D9819-10

There may not have been any Rory McIlroy’s or Tiger Woods out on Eastern Bay golf courses but that didn’t stop members from rushing online to sign up for hit

It’s safe to say golf club members in Eastern Bay are stoked they can return to the fairways and greens.

Under level four, golf like all other sports was deemed off limits. However, now New Zealand has shifted to level three golfers have been able to return to the course – albeit with slight alterations.

They have to sign up online and can only play individually or in their bubble and have to wait 10 minutes for the players in front before they can tee off.

Whakatane Golf Club’s Brent Willetts is stoked to be able to get back out and play the sport he loves.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic being able to get out on the course for some exercise and play golf.

“I find it a bit strange that they have introduced these different rules to adhere to until things with the virus improve because golf is one of the biggest social distancing sports around. So, having to play it by yourself or just in your bubble is a bit strange but hey we have to stay safe and I respect their decision. It’s great to be back out there and the way I slice and hook my ball I am never near anybody anyway.”

PAR PUTT: Robert Barker lines up a par putt as Cris Barker watches on during their round at the Whakatane Golf Club last Thursday. D9819-64

As for the golf itself, Willetts, who has been swinging the clubs for 25 years and plays off a 14 handicap, is pleased with the result.

“I managed to play the round under my handicap which was a pretty good effort.”

He is full of praise for the club’s staff who have the course looking in great condition.

“I played on Tuesday, the day it was opened, and there were no tee markers or flags but when I turned up again on Thursday they had both of them, so it was awesome to see.”

Willetts used to own Brent Willetts Funeral Services before selling it to his son in law so he could spend more time playing golf. He said he was pleased golf had been given the all clear in level three and was excited for his next round at the Whakatane club.

Robert and Cris Barker, who are also part of the Whakatane Golf Club enjoyed their lockdown time together but are loving being back out on the course together getting fresh air.

“The course is slow but in fantastic condition, full credit to the groundsman for his work.”

Ohope Golf Club member Kyle Bond said it was awesome being able to add golf to his bubble.

“My wife, Carol, and I have been out for a couple of hits already and we just loved being back on the course.

“They’ve done an incredible job trying to make it playable for us and it looks really good considering how little time they’ve had.

“It played really well, and we were just so happy to be back out on the course.”

He said his first round last Tuesday was a bit rusty, but the better form returned on May 2.

“I think I shot 10 strokes better than my first round. It was nice to get back out there and swing the golf clubs but also to be doing some different exercise.”

Bond said it was nice seeing people stick to their bubbles and the guidelines set in place.

Fellow Ohope club player Paul Robinson, who has been a golfer for 40 years, said it was nice to be back hitting golf balls.

“It was good to get out there with my partner, Cheryl, and have hit around. We really enjoyed it.

“It was nice to get out of jail as you could say.”

He said the course was in great condition and hoped at level two they might be able to play some competitive golf.

“Getting back to some normality would be nice but we have to stay safe, having the golf option is a real bonus.”