Indian professionals return to the golf course, follow new norms and practices to beat Covid-19
As golf courses began reopening across the country this week, Indian professional golfers returned to their respective home courses to get some much-needed practice after a long two-month forced break due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the resulting nationwide lockdown.
However, things are a little different now as the clubs and its members are ensuring that new norms and practices are followed on the golf course in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Chandigarh Golf Club was among the first to reopen its course this week even as the clubhouse and other facilities are still shut.
Leading Indian professionals Jeev Milkha Singh, Shubhankar Sharma, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Karandeep Kochhar were among those who teed off at Chandigarh Golf Club when it reopened on Wednesday, May 20. The players were seen wearing masks and practicing social distancing on the course.
Shubhankar Sharma, who played alongside friends Karandeep Kochhar and Rohan Kathuria on Wednesday, said, “I really enjoyed my first round of golf after almost two and a half months. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while. I was doing a little bit of chipping in my garden in the last two months but there’s nothing like being back on the golf course.
“I think the reopening of golf courses is well-timed as it is easy to maintain social distancing in our vast playing arena in golf. The Chandigarh Golf Club, like other courses around the world, has put some preventive measures in place that have facilitated the return of golf.
“The club has provided a plastic contraption on each hole that helps us lift the ball out of the hole with the putter. So, we don’t need to use our hands to touch the flagstick or take the ball out and thereby we all avoid touching the same surface. The bunkers are also not required to be raked these days.
“While we are all wearing masks on the course and keeping a minimum distance of six feet from each other, we are also either carrying our own bags or using a golf cart to carry them with just one person in the cart to drive it,” added Shubhankar, who spent a lot of time meditating and working out when the course was closed.
Jeev Milkha Singh, who teed off after two months, played alongside fellow professionals Ajeetesh Sandhu and Gurbaaz Mann as well as Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) CEO Uttam Singh Mundy on Wednesday.
Jeev tweeted, “Had great fun at Chandigarh Golf Club today when I finally played my first round of golf after staying home every minute since March 18. I used to take golf, and many other things, for granted. Never again. Just need to count our blessings at everything life gives us.”
Later on, during an interview with Indian Express, Jeev added, “The Chandigarh Golf Club has laid down certain rules and guidelines for playing a round of golf and all the members are respecting those rules and abiding by them.”
Even though golf resumed at a number of courses in India this week, there are challenges posed by the new guidelines as a lot of golfers have admitted that it is not very comfortable to play with the mask on.
Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Gautam Thapar (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.
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