In the first three weeks of golf receiving the green light to restart in Scotland, Golf Aberdeen welcomed almost 10,000 golfers back to its courses, with 6,200 tee times booked in that period.
This is the busiest the courses have been in the last forty years, with every course almost at capacity, each day. Golf Aberdeen, part of award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen, manages five of the north-east’s best public golf courses.
Tony Dawson, Sport Aberdeen chairman, commented on the tremendous interest: "The appetite for golf that we are currently seeing is exceptional, and very much welcomed. Golf is an excellent form of exercise for people of all ages and is one of the few sporting options available to participate in at the moment.
"The current situation has proven that golf is incredibly important to the people of Aberdeen and we want to continue to provide them with a fantastic, high quality, accessible offering across all of our courses.
"Public golf courses have, at times, been considered a poor relation to private clubs. However, thanks to the significant hard work and investment into Sport Aberdeen’s venues, the city now has five high quality courses of a standard that can confidently compete with private clubs in the north-east.”
Since 2014, around £0.5m has been invested by Sport Aberdeen across all four 18-hole courses. This has included substantial fairway renovation works, bunker repair and renewal, tee levelling and path reconstruction. In the case of the MacKenzie Championship and Pines Courses at Hazlehead Park, drainage works and, thanks to Aberdeen City Council, an extensive tree thinning programme were also carried out.
The work on the MacKenzie Championships course in particular has been extensive, with an investment of £250,000 made to completely renew the drainage; which was undoubtedly helped to eliminate the likely closure of the course.
In addition, the maintenance programme has been completely restructured to make it more fit for purpose, in line with modern green keeping techniques, and Sport Aberdeen’s partner contractor has also invested £0.75m on equipment which has made a huge difference.
What has changed since reopening due to Covid-19?
A number of changes have been made to the operation and arrangements for booking to ensure customers comply with the return to golf guidelines.
These are primarily focussed around two areas; ensuring that physical distancing rules are adhered to, including increased spacing of tee times and allowing groups of up to four golfers, with a maximum of three households be represented in any one group; and general hygiene, including the regular use of hand sanitiser, no sharing of equipment, no bunker rakes or touching of flag poles. A team of marshals are present on the courses to support golfers in following the new guidelines, ensuring everyone can get the most out of golf in Aberdeen.
Dawson continued: “Feedback from golfers using all of our courses confirms that we are getting it right and the positive reaction has been fantastic over the last few weeks. We have been absolutely delighted to see our valued members and customers back out on the greens and we look forward to continuing to create opportunities for more people to enjoy sport in Aberdeen.
"The incredible loyalty and backing we have received from everyone throughout lockdown, and upon reopening certain provisions, has cemented Sport Aberdeen’s place at the heart of community activity in the Granite City and I would like to thank each and every person who has, and continues to support the charity.”