A GOLF course in Tadley says its tee times are 98 per cent full after reopening this week.

Bishopswood Golf Course joined other courses nationwide in opening for the first time in seven weeks on Wednesday, after lockdown restrictions were gradually eased by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

This has seen people making the long-awaited return to the course, which was forced to close like shops, pubs, restaurants and more back in March.

And according to Bishopswood's manager Kevin Pickett, having to shut down operations has been "grim".

Following an unusually wet winter, he said that the course was "behind the eight-ball", but whilst the time off has not been great for the business side of things, it has helped the course to recover.

"The only two people that were working other than myself was my green staff. It was essential maintenance only.

"We have got no other income," Kevin added, saying that conference facilities have had to close because of the social distancing measures.

"It is important to us, now that the golf course is open, is that we try and get as many people to utilise it as much as we can."

Golf courses were among a list of facilities able to reopen from this week following Boris Johnson's speech on Sunday.

Garden centres were able to reopen their doors, whilst tennis courts and athletics tracks across the borough were reopened yesterday.

However, there are strict social distancing measures in place at Bishopswood.

People playing that are not in the same household must stay two metres apart, and players can be in no more than twos.

Kevin said the course was "contactless", meaning that there are no rakes in bunkers and people don't need to take the flag out of the hole.

A document detailing all of the advice has been sent to members and customers.

Since reopening, golfers have wasted no time in going down to the course. Non-member tee times were 98 per cent full, and Kevin told the Gazette on Friday lunchtime that weekend bookings were "coming in thick and fast".

And one of the members who got straight down there on Wednesday was Colin Gifford.

The 73-year-old, who normally plays three times a week, was among the first to return to the course, and headed down again on Friday for another round.

"It was very nice.

"The course is immaculate, it has recovered well."

Colin says he is not worried about catching coronavirus whilst playing golf, because the social distancing measures are well thought-out at the course.

"They did a good job so that when the rules changed it was just a matter of tweaking here and there and we were up and running.

"It is all well-organised.

"I am 73 and quite fit and active. Golf was one of my main events of the week, other than visiting my children.

"It was a major setback, I was bored out of my mind, but a lot of people were."

The tee times are members-only in the morning, with non-members able to book a slot in advance.

For more info go to http://www.bishopswoodgc.co.uk/.