STAMFORD Golf Club signed up 31 full new members in the space of six days after lockdown restrictions were eased allowing them to reopen.
To recruit so many new members in such a short space of time is unprecedented.“The new members have joined because there is nothing else to do,” remarked club professional Mark Smith.
“There is no football, either going to matches or watching it in pubs which are shut along with bars and restaurants.
“People have money in their pockets and nothing to do with it.”
Mark added he has never known the Carrbrook club to be so busy.
When the course re-opened on Wednesday, May 13, the tee times, which had to be booked in advance, were snapped up inside 10 minutes.
“We are fully booked from 6am to 6pm and that is seven days a week,” he said.
And Carrbrook Angling Club has also signed up 18 new members since lockdown restrictions were eased.Chairman Gary Rothwell believed a lack of alternative activities to do is behind their increase in membership.
Gary added at £50 for adults, £35 pensioners and £15 juniors who are free if accompanied by an adult, represents excellent value for money given they fish four local waters.
As golf, tennis and fishing were given the green light to resume as lockdown restrictions were eased, more of a sense of normality returned to the local sporting scene.
After almost two months of inactivity, it was a relief to be back on the golf course, tennis court and be able to fish again.
Restrictions remain in golf with only two balls permitted with tee times to be pre-booked and 10-minute intervals between matches.
Players are informed to arrive no more than 10 minutes before teeing off and instructed to leave immediately afterwards as the clubhouse and other facilities are shut.
When Denton reopened on May 13, every tee slots for that day, which were from 7.30am-8pm, were snapped up in a matter of minutes.
Ashton professional Michael Boyle reported tee times are “pretty full” each day.
He also revealed the clamour for places in their first competition which will be held on Saturday (May 30).
“The draw sheet for that two-ball Stableford went live at midnight and was fully booked by 1am,” he said.
Tee times are from 7am to 6pm, but with two balls 10 minutes apart, only 12 players will be starting out so fields will be smaller than for events pre-lockdown.
Michael added the only compensation was being able to spend more time with his two-year-old daughter Ella.
“I don’t think I will ever get another chance to have seven weeks off,” he said.
Werneth Low professional Jamie Tipper admitted it took a lot of work behind the scenes to get the club ready to reopen.
The safety measures included installing extra hand sanitisers, removing benches and rakes from bunkers as well as making inserts for holes to prevent the ball dropping.
He said members were out on the course in large numbers.
“It has gone swimmingly and great to see members happy to be able to exercise with a friend while social distancing,” he explained.
Carrbrook Angling Club is also operating a booking system to ensure their waters are not crowded and they are able to enforce social distancing.
“It enables us to know how many are fishing and groups are not stood together,” explained Gary.
He added fishing is for members only with no day tickets available for visitors.
Gary, who explained they had issues of illegal fishing during lockdown, added the new system is working and has been “99 per cent problem free”.Priory Tennis Club, Stalybridge, reopened three days after restrictions were eased with chairman Nick Holmes explaining it took time to prepare to reopen the club.
He said: “The LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) sent out guidance the day after Boris Johnson’s address to the nation and told us not to rush.
“We had to put measures in place like signs, decide whether to re-open the clubhouse, which we haven’t, and to prepare the courts.”
Priory are operating a membership rota in which different categories are allocated set hours and days.
Nick said: “The concern was that everybody would turn up together and we would have had queues to get on court.
“Only singles matches are permitted unless you are from the same family – the majority play doubles – so that is also probably why we haven’t been hammered and it has been steady.
“And we have had a lot of compliments about how we have re-opened the club.”
Nick has doubts whether any competitive tennis will take place – it will definitely not be a full league season.
Lockdown enabled Priory to have their fourth court and kids zone resurfaced at a cost of £23,000, a portion of which came from a Lawn Tennis Association grant. The work had been scheduled before the Covid-19 crisis.
The three other courts had previously been renovated.
Priory, which had a recent record high 183 paying members in 2019-20, has also received a £10,000 small business grant which Nick described as a “godsend” for the club’s accounts.