GOLF is set to return early next month after a four-week absence, and although Bradford Golf Union president Simon Tabel is pleased to hear it, he admitted it came as a shock to see courses closed in the first place.

The national lockdown will be replaced by a tiered system from next Wednesday, but even in tier 3, the strictest category, golf courses will be allowed to reopen.

Tabel said: “It’s been a long period without it, particularly because it was so wet immediately before the lockdown.

“That means some of our golfers in the district haven’t played for over a month.

“All we need now is for a bit of decent weather and no snow. It would put the icing on the cake this year if that stopped us from playing.”

While some sports have seen virtually no action since March, golf returned in May and had been played, with restrictions in place, continuously for six months.

So asked if he was shocked when the government announced that courses would have to close from November 5, Tabel said: “Yes, and I think it was a decision that took most of the industry by surprise.

“Golf had gotten into a very comfortable position, where it was safe and we were following all the precautions. Certainly on course we were very confident in what we were doing.

“But I suspect in clubhouses, maybe less attention was paid to the full social distancing norms, and that’s maybe what swayed the government, activity in those and the pro shops.

“There was also maybe a feeling about the country being in this together, so golf would have to suck it up.”

Expanding on the clubhouses matter, with those looking very unlikely to open if they are in a tier 3 area, Tabel said: “We could be in different situations across the Bradford Union.

“Some of our clubs are in North Yorkshire and though most are in West Yorkshire, you have some in Kirklees and some in Bradford.

“It might end up being localised (clubhouses opening) or we could be all lumped in together. We’ll have to wait and see.

“If clubhouses do close it would be a major issue for many clubs, as a lot of them generate good income over Christmas normally.

“There’s no indication of how many people can play at the same time yet either. I presume it’ll be up to four.”

The union put in a lot of effort to hold events like the Bradford Open and the Bradford Amateur Strokeplay over the summer.

And Tabel conceded: “It’s absolutely better that the lockdown came this month, rather than in the summer.

“We were fortunate as a union to run as many competitions as we did during the prime golfing calendar.

“We’ve lost three or four alliance competitions to the lockdown, which may hit us financially, but we can absorb that and we know it was done for people’s safety.

“The alliance season is over for now, and we’ll be back for the rest of it in mid-February hopefully, which is when we should see individual clubs organising their own competitions too.”