Prepare for the return of golf!
With golf courses reopening in England in two weeks' time, now is the time to prepare for a long-awaited return to the fairways.
Many people wonder why this most natural socially distant sport was shut down in the first place. However, thousands of golfers will finally return to the fairways on March 29th.
If you are lucky, your golf club will have its green keeping team busy and the course will be in great condition. Despite a cold and wet January and February, the weather was relatively late, and with no winter golfers making divots and pitch marks, playing conditions should be excellent, especially now that temperatures are rising and spring is in the air. However, please be aware that some courses have had to take most of their staff on leave and many important course work may have been delayed. So be patient and allow time for the course to get back to top condition.
Here is a quick guide on how to best prepare for the return of golf.
- Be realistic about your fitness
Because of the various lockdowns, most of us have eaten and drunk more and exercised less. So don't be surprised if the 3½ to 4 hour walk with your clubs in tow turns out to be a little more difficult than before. So if you haven't hit your peleton in the past three months, you may want to go back to playing gently instead of playing five times a week – although most clubs limit the number of rounds you can play in any given period as well always.
- Stretch your golf muscles
Don't wait to hit your first tee on March 29 or shortly thereafter before stretching your golf muscles. Take a club in the garden or open space and practice repeatedly, taking time to stretch major golf muscles. Check out former European Tour player Andrew Murray's excellent getbacktogolf videos on his Twitter page for some great stretching and warming up exercises so you won't pull a muscle on your first outing in months.
- EQUIPMENT MOT
If you haven't seen your golf bag since 2020, now is the time to check out if your gear needs some attention. Here is a quick checklist of things to look out for:
– If your handles are slippery, brush them with a light sandpaper, then wash them with warm soapy water. Let the handles dry naturally. If they can no longer be repaired, have your professional install new ones. For irons, make sure they are all swapped out at the same time to ensure a consistent feel.
– Clean the grooves on your irons and wedges. Warm water, a slightly abrasive sponge, and a reasonably sharp-edged tool – not a wooden golf t-shirt – should clear these grooves of mud and grime and grip the ball for extra spin
– Check that your golf shoes have all the cleats and that the treads are not excessively worn when wearing shoes with spikelets. Clean the upper with a damp cloth and apply a waterproof wax polish.
– Check what's in your golf bag. Get rid of all of the empty cute wrappers, half-drunk bottles of water, rotten fruit, broken tees, and worn golf balls. Top up with new balls – preferably the same model for consistency – a fresh glove, and some healthy snacks, plus a clean towel to dry off wet handles.
– Wash your waterproofing and check your umbrella. The weather is always changeable at this time of the year. So make sure you have the kit you need to stay warm and dry in case conditions change during the lap.
– Give your car a MOT. Clean the wheels and frame, check that the straps are in good condition, and, on a motor vehicle, make sure the battery is fully charged so you don't have to drag it around the last seven holes of your first round back.
GOLF UNDER COVID RESTRICTIONS
– Pro shops, clubhouses and changing rooms are not properly open until April 12th. So make sure you have everything you need before you get to the club.
– Check if your club organizes take-away drinks and food as not all of them do. – Golf courses are only open for pre-booked tee times. So book in advance so you don't turn your thumbs until May. Some private clubs will only be members for short term, while others will allow a limited number of visitors for limited times.
– Don't touch the flag. Remember to remove the ball from the hole with your putter or without touching the edges. Use elbows to greet players instead of shaking hands, and maintain social distance at all times when playing with golfers outside your bubble.