NEWCASTLE golfers will hit the fairways again after the NSW Government ruled on Wednesday that the sport could continue in line with Public Health Orders.
On Tuesday, the majority of courses closed after a directive following a tightening of restrictions to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
However, after further consultation, the government did a backflip and gave the green light for clubs to trade albeit under strict protocols.
"After reconsideration, the Office of Sport - NSW Government - has advised that golf is considered an activity that can continue to be played in line with Public Health Orders relating to public gathering limits, social distancing and the elderly," Golf NSW said in a statement
The move is against a recommendation by Golf Australia for clubs to close.
Waratah, Belmont, Merewether, Toronto and Nelson Bay as well as Hunter Valley resort courses Cyrpess Lakes, The Vintage and Crowne Plaza are among those to reopen on Thursday. Maitland remains closed. Charlestown will make a decision on Thursday morning.
"There is a lot to consider and we are not rushing into it for the benefit of our members and community," Charlestown professional Janelle Smith said.
Waratah general manager Jonathan Towns welcomed the move and said strict procedures which had been in place would continue.
Groups will be limited to two players, there will be one person per cart, flags will remain in the cups and only one person will be permitted in the pro-shop at a time. Government social distances guidelines are also in place.
"We are definitely not going to be turning any profit, it is more about keeping staff in jobs," Towns said. "We would rather be open with some income than no income.
"I know how to run a golf club. I'm not a health expert and we just trust the government to make the right call. We will go above and beyond to make sure it is safe and put in place whatever measures we can."
"It gives people something to do other than walking around and going home. At no point do they touch anything that doesn't belong to them. They are in groups of two spread out well beyond any government regulations for social distancing. It is really safe as far as we are concerned.
The government has advised that people over 70 stay at home outside of attending medical appointments.
"We support the government advice," Towns said.
Belmont and Merewether will be open to members only.
"At any one time there will only be 80-90 golfers on the course and we will have staff marshaling the course," Belmont general manager Glenn Howard said. "The guidelines are strict and if members breach them, we can suspend them. Our member demand is very high. The support by members prior to closing was terrific. I imagine it will be pretty strong when we reopen."
The change was also well-received by professional golfers, who were using makeshift practice facilities at home.