Riverside Golf Club member Ian Flemming wasted no time returning to the course on Wednesday after the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

SUNRAYSIA golfers have rejoiced this week after finally being allowed back onto local courses.

Following Monday’s easement of COVID-19 restrictions by the State Government, Victorians are allowed to gather in public groups of up to 10 people, while individual sports such as golf and surfing have been given the green light.

While there aren’t many waves to ride in Mildura, frustrated golfers can now tee off without running the risk of shattering windows.

Golf clubs still have to follow general hygiene and social distancing guidelines so it is not open slather as yet, however phones have been ringing off the hook for clubs under the Murray Darling Golf Association (MDGA) banner to make a booking.

Riverside Golf Club manager, David Gardiner, said Wednesday’s return to action for golfers was a welcome sight.

“It’s certainly exciting,” he said.

“There were a lot of us that couldn’t understand why we weren’t still able to play if we were adhering to guidelines, but it’s great to be able to get back out there.

“We’ll be running time sheets and only taking bookings. You can’t just walk up to the club to play. We’re trying to minimise the amount of people we have in groups, even if it’s for social play.

“Normally we would play off two tees, the first and 10th, but to again minimise the amount of people we’re just hitting off from the first tee.

“The fact you can have groups of up to 10 people gathering outside allows us to play in fours, but the only real restriction with that is you can still only have one person in a motorised buggy at a time.”

Mr Gardiner said staff has made small implementations to ensure the hygiene of players.

“Normally we would have rakes in our bunkers but we have removed those so people aren’t handling them, and we’re not allowing pins to be removed from each hole,” he said.

“We’ve used bits of pool noodles in the holes so the ball will just go in a little and players won’t have to reach all the way in to retrieve their ball.”

Not having players on the course may have actually had a benefit for Riverside, with Mr Gardiner saying the course is in pristine condition.

“The club house staff have been on fairly modified hours across this period, however the on-course staff have been working right through,” he said.

“With the lack of action, combined with some great weather we’ve had lately, the staff have been able to do some maintenance work that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to complete.

“The course is in magnificent condition, probably the best I have seen it for years.”