As the Chandigarh Golf Club reopened on Wednesday morning after new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Chandigarh Administration, the 7,202 yard-long golf course saw more than 170 golfers playing nine hole or 18 holes.
With restrictions like only confirmed tee booking over the phone, no caddies, one member per cart, non-operational lockers, no bunker racks, no children and golfers above 65 years allowed, no handling of pins in place, the day saw 14-time international winner Jeev Milkha Singh, 2017 Yeangder TPC and last year’s Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational winner Ajeetesh Sandhu with Uttam Singh Mundy, former golfer and now the CEO of the Professional Golf Tour of India, and golfer Gurbaaz Mann too playing at the course.
“I think opening of the golf course has been blessing for all of us. After sitting for more than two-and-a-half months, we realise how important the sport is for all of us. We have to cherish such moments and are thankful for what we have. Keeping the safety and precautions in perspective, all the golfers are ensuring that they stay safe on the course. The club has taken measures like restrictions on the number of golfers per cart, special flag sticks and other guidelines. In terms of competitions, PGA Tour is starting next month while PGTI and Asian Tour are looking towards a September-October start this year. All depends on the sponsors coming up once again apart from PGTI taking all preventive measures,” Singh said.
With each batch teeing off after a gap of 15 minutes and only one member allowed per cart apart from no presence of caddies, the 18-hole course saw golfers wearing masks apart from carrying own water bottles. There were no high fives or patting on the back after a birdie and the golfers applauded from a distance.
With the clubhouse and restaurant too closed, some of the golfers carried their own food and were screened prior to the entry to the golf course. “In international tournaments or practise, most of us are on our own and with Chandigarh Golf Course starting again, we have started thinking of practising totally on our own. It’s about our safety and the playing partners’ safety. Seeing members play in batches and delayed start is a good step. One does miss handshakes or having a meal together but we all understand that preventive measures are needed,” said 31-year-old Ajeetesh Sandhu.
While the day also saw the club staff keeping an eye on golfers with rounds on electric scooters, course manager Amritinder Singh too was busy following the golfers in each batch.
“Management has come with a list of guidelines and we are making sure to sanitise carts and setting up time chart with 15 minute between each group. The bunker rakes have been removed and we have given players a preferred lies option. We have made a contraption so no golfer touches the flag stick and picks the ball with the club,” Singh said.
Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO of PGTI, the Indian Golf Tour’s national body, also played on Wednesday. “Golf courses are opening up in some cities in India and it will depend on respective state governments about particular golf courses in each state. Competitive golf still is out of bounds but if the situation improves, we are seeing a September-October start later this year,” said Mundy.
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