Golfers and tennis players have flooded back to courts and courses today as clubs opened for the first time since lockdown.
Huge numbers of amateur athletes across England have grabbed their clubs and rackets as demand for a round or match rocketed.
Sportsmen could be seen golfing in Liverpool, Leeds, Leicestershire and Winchester this morning after greenkeepers tended to their pitches.
People have been starved of their favourite pastimes for the past two months as government restrictions meant play was not possible.
But from today the PM said courses and courts can welcome back players as long as social distancing measures are adhered to.
The move has seen a surge in demand for places, with some clubs quickly running out of playing slots for the rest of the week.
One golfer puts his thumb up while wearing a face mask after playing the first hole at West Essex Golf Course in London
Huge numbers of amateur athletes across England have grabbed their clubs and rackets as demand for a round or match rocketed. Pictured: One keen player driving at SOuth Winchester Gold Club in Hampshire
Sportsmen could be seen golfing in Liverpool, Leeds, Leicestershire (pictured) and Winchester this morning after greenkeepers tended to their pitches
Ahead of the sportsmen, greenkeepers were out in force to tend to their pitches before crowds embarked on the courses
Tim Barnes, the owner at Hartford Golf Club in Cheshire, told the Telegraph: ‘The busiest day we’ve ever had here but also one of the most exciting as well.
‘The phone has been ringing off the wall all day [Monday]. We have booked about 100 tee-times when we are allowed to reopen on Wednesday, with our members desperate to get back on the course.’
What can athletes do from today?
People in England will now be able to exercise more than once a day and with one person who is not from their household, so long as social distancing requirements are still met.
Golf courses, outdoor tennis and basketball courts can be used, and people can also swim in lakes and the sea.
But gathering with more than one member of another household is still forbidden, along with swimming in a public pool, using a playground or outdoor gym, and exercising in indoor leisure centres or facilities.
Clubs in Scotland remain closed, but those in Wales will be allowed to open to ‘local member’s’ from Monday.
England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf in the country, outlined a number of strict rules which must be observed as play resumes.
Golfers will be permitted to play alone or with one member of another household, yet clubhouses will be closed and flags cannot be touched.
Other changes include using feet to smooth the sand in bunkers rather than a rake, ball-washers being out of use and hole-filling devices being used to stop balls from dropping beneath the surface of the green.
Jubilant golfers and tennis players took to social media to post snaps of them and their kit back on course after seven weeks.
Hilary Brigden wrote ‘the Brigden house is one man down today’ next to a picture of her clubs.
Bush Hill Park Golf Club in north London posted: ‘We are safe, we are ready, and WE ARE OPEN.’
And The Millbrook Golf Club in Bedfordshire added: ‘Almost fully booked on day one of the return to golf! Some very happy members. Let’s be sensible, enjoy the fresh air and change of scenery.’
Jubilant golfers and tennis players took to social media to post snaps of them and their kit back on course after seven weeks
Golfers putt on the 9th green at Allerton Manor golf course in Liverpool after the lifting of lockdown restrictions on some leisure activities today
A man tees off as he plays golf at Kirby Muxloe Golf Club in Leicestershire early this morning
A safety notice for golfers who are back in action is displayed at Kirby Muxloe Golf Club in Leicestershire
One golf club which straddles the English and Welsh border has reopened despite the divided lockdown rules in each country.
Llanymynech Golf Club claims to be Europe’s only dual country course, with its holes split between the counties of Powys in Wales and Shropshire in England.
But its location led to confusion about whether it could reopen this week due to a difference in the way coronavirus lockdown measures are being eased in England and Wales.
The club – which is situated between the towns of Welshpool and Oswestry – has said it will reopen in-line with the measures announced for England.
In a statement on Tuesday, the club said: ‘We have many difficult decisions to make as a golf club in order just to survive without having to deal with governing bodies that fail to agree on suitable, sensible guidelines that not only protect the public, but the very existence of sporting clubs.’
Its course features 15 holes in Wales, two in England and one that crosses both countries, with players teeing off in the former and putting in the latter.
Llanymynech Golf Club claims to be Europe’s only dual country course, with its holes split between the counties of Powys in Wales and Shropshire in England
The club said the majority of its 470 members are based in England, adding that the virus had left it in a ‘precarious position’ financially.
In reaching its decision to reopen, the club said it had followed the guidance of the Shropshire and Herefordshire Union of Golf Clubs and the English Golf Union.
‘This we feel is the best course of action for our club and its members and allows golf to be played within the current restrictions highlighted in the Prime Minister’s statement,’ the club said.
‘The English Golf Union guidelines agreed with the Government are a comprehensive set of rules that will allow a limited amount of golf to be played in a controlled and safe manner.’
The Government’s coronavirus recovery strategy said that from Wednesday recreational activities, including golf and tennis will be permitted in England as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.