Golf is back with players following Covid rules of social distancing

Players are back on the course at Churston Golf Club

Players are back on the course at Churston Golf Club - Credit: Archant

There's no touching of flag-sticks, most games are only two-balls and the old '19th hole' is definitely out of bounds, but golf is still back!

The game, along with tennis and some other individual sports, has been leading the return to normality since courses were opened up last Wednesday.

It was the first time they had seen action since the Covid-19 lockdown almost two months ago.

Churston seniors' captain Bill Phillips said: 'It's great to see some smiling faces again - and to get out on the course at last.

'But to coin a phrase, we're not out of the woods yet, because all clubs have been hit very hard financially by this crisis.

'Of course, we can't go in the clubhouse yet, so there's still no bar revenue.

'The next important date will be when that can resume - most people are talking about possibly July 1, but we'll obviously have to follow the same rules as pubs and social clubs on that one.'

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Members at Torquay had been kept busy by online lessons and fitness routines from pro Dan Henriksen and his staff.

Course manager Jason Brooks has also been battling one of the game's old enemies, an infestation of 'leatherjackets' on some holes, and using a 'drone' to show progress.

At Churston - like most courses, it's members only at the moment - players are being asked to arrive no more than 15 minutes before tee-off and to leave straight after their games. Players there have also fired over giant letters 'NHS' cut into one of the fairways.

An even more ambitious multi-coloured NHS logo adorns the first fairway at Newton Abbot's Stover GC.

Driving nets have been available for a few warm-up shots, but putting greens and other practice areas are off limits, and so are toilets, changing-rooms, bars and restaurants.

Captain Peter English was the first man onto the opening tee at Teignmouth GC. Bovey Tracey GC's popular nine-hole course isn't allowing four-ball matches, but three players from the same household are permitted as well as two-ball games. Glorious weather has also tempted hundreds of players back to Dainton Park, near Newton Abbot, and the Teign Valley course.

Some club competitions may resume soon but the lockdown has already seen the long-established South Devon League cancelled this year, while all Devon County events until at least July have been called off.