WHEN Skipton Golf Club was allowed to resume play last week, up with the larks and first to tee off in the early hours were this season’s men’s and ladies captains, Ian Sewell and Ros Moloney.

Both welcomed with open, albeit somewhat rusty arms the opportunity to get back into the swing of things after the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.

Both captains paid tribute to head green keeper Ian Brown and his team for having the course in great nick ready for the earlier than anticipated, but eagerly awaited resumption of play.

In common with other golf courses across the nation, restrictions remain in place at Skipton, with the course open for social golf and to members only.

The rules stipulate also for a maximum of two people playing together, all the while observing recognised social distancing requirements.

Without exception, tee times must also be booked in advance.

Golf is one of the first sports to get the green light and the club says it is already seeing an influx of new golfers interested in joining, with many other sports looking like being out of action for some time.

And Skipton Golf Club member Robin Moule said people have been flocking to the course as a result.

Talking about how the first week back in action has gone, he enthused: “It’s been very very busy.

“People have to book online and I was looking the other day and you’re having to book three days in advance there’s such demand.

“Ian Sewell sent me an email this week and we should be having a board meeting soon to discuss when visitors can return.

“Ian Brown and his staff have been working away during the lockdown and the course is in excellent nick, with rich, green rolling fairways.

“It’s good to see people getting back into the swing of things.”

Moule has not actually been down to play himself yet, but asked whether he was keen to get going again, he said: “Very much so.

“Hopefully I’ll be down to play my first round late next week. I’ll see what I can do.”

Financially, Skipton hope that a combination of factors could mean the effects of the seven-week closure of the course are not too damaging for them.

Moule said: “You still can’t go in the clubhouse as that’s closed, but reopening is a major boost for a lot of golf clubs.

“It’s also definitely helped being back first. Because it’s one of the first sports to resume, we’ve had a lot of interest from potential new members, which is good for the sport and the club itself.”

He added: “You normally pay your membership at the end of March every year (but that was when the pandemic struck).

“The club said, ‘we know you can’t play, but if you can pay to just help us keep things afloat during the current economic climate, that would be great’.

“That has boosted the coffers somewhat too.”