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by Andy Tong | 14th May 2020

Poult Wood golf course near Tonbridge will be reopening on Saturday morning [May 16] – using the new protocols required to maintain social distancing.

The management also admits that the couse may be rather rough and ready as groundstaff have had to step up their efforts despite only being at half their usual strength because of the lockdown.

Golf clubs around the country are racing to catch up with maintenance after the Prime Minister announced on Sunday that the public could exercise alone or together in family groups.

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However, Poult Wood has said that it cannot permit people to play on their own because of the limited availability of tee times.

It will only allow two-balls (two players at a time), and will not accommodate three or four-balls even if they all come from a single household.

Martin Guyton, Chief Executive of tmactive, the leisure arm of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, explained the difficulties the groundsmen are facing.

“The greenkeeping team has been operating on half the normal workforce since the closure of the course to protect our financial position,” he said.

“They have been working hard to maintain the course so it remains playable while observing the technical guidance issued to greenkeepers by England Golf and BIGGA, the greenkeepers association.”

‘The rough will be slightly longer than usual, the greens have not been treated, bunkers have not been maintained’

He added: “This means the course will not be to the usual standard expected this time of year.

“The rough will be slightly longer than usual, the greens have not been treated, bunkers have not been maintained and ditches may have become overgrown during closure.

“The staff will rectify these as soon as is practical but they are still not at full staff levels and mowing is the main consideration at the current time.

“We will keep staffing levels under review and return to a full complement based on demand.”

The 18-hole course opens from 8.30am on Saturday, while the nine-hole version will be back up and running over the next week.

Tee times must be pre-booked either online or via the telephone. They will run from 8.30am to 5pm seven days per week.

The pro shop will also open on Saturday but only essential items such as balls, gloves and tees will be for sale. The public can call the shop on 01732 364039 from 8.30am on Friday.

The driving range, putting green, clubhouse and changing rooms will remain closed until further notice but the toilets will be accessible via the foyer.

Buggies will not be available and there will be no pull trollies or golf equipment for hire.

Players are requested not to arrive more than 15 minutes before their tee time and change their shoes in the car park.

They are also instructed not to touch or remove the flagstick on the holes, which have been modified to allow for easy retrieval of the ball. There will be no rakes in bunkers.

No cash payments will be accepted. Annual members will have their subscription discounted by a full two months next year to compensate for the closure of the course.

Mr Guyton said: “Iit is our ambition to return to golf in a safe and responsible manner and all the above, whilst restrictive, is designed to achieve this aim.

“We do need the support and patience of our customers in these difficult times and I hope you will respect that our staff are keen to assist but I will not allow them to be placed in a position of unacceptable risk.

“I reserve the right to remove any individual who is found to be knowingly in breach of the guidance or the spirit of this guidance and will not hesitate to do so.”

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