Lockdown but captains chip in to launch season

CAPTAIN Steve Asquith and lady captain Sheila Cooper were determined the show must go on at Saddleworth Golf Club, despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Though the club was shut, the pair decided their captain’s drive-ins, to mark the traditional start of the golfing season, should still go ahead.

And the ceremonies took place in splendid isolation in the back gardens of their homes.

Steve said: “We both played chip shots down the garden, lady captain into an upturned umbrella.

“Mine was played with only three people present, but we made videos of the drive-ins and posted them on social media.”

Golf was the last sport to be subject to a shutdown.

Steve said: “It is an unfortunate situation but these are unprecedented times.

“We are left to practice our swings in the garden and putting on the lounge carpet.”

Steve added Saddleworth’s greenkeepers are still maintaining the course.

“It is just a case of nobody playing, so when we return it ought to be in pristine condition.”

Steve added the closure of the golf club will impact it financially with functions in the clubhouse lose as well as lost green fees from societies and other visitors.

“The situation is so fluid and changing on a weekly basis that it is impossible to say what effect it will have on the club,” he said.

Professional Andy Earlam will be affected as he is self-employed, though he receives a retainer from the club.

He explained that five golf societies, booked in before the end of May, have cancelled, but one has rescheduled for later in the year and it is hoped the other four will do likewise.

Saddleworth’s three Winter Leagues were completed.

There were three different competitions held on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday with singles, pairs and three-man team formats.

Points accumulated throughout the winter decided their outcomes.

Andy Li headed the Saturday standings with 53 points to finish six clear of runner-up Jon Givvons and seven of third-placed Gary Simpson.

Mark Orme was the runaway winner of the Sunday competition with 84 points from second-placed Phil Ramsker (64) and Ben Simpson (63) who was third.

The order of merit for the Tuesday competition saw Les Thompson triumph with 97 points from Ken Shadford and Richard Hughes who were second and third respectively with 86 and 79 points.

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