Skipton Golf Club’s men’s and ladies’ captains, Ian Sewell and Dagmar Hecker-Woodhead, were among the first foursome to tee-off soon after first light on a blustery morning when play made a welcome return on Monday.

The club reports that members are clearly keen to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible, with demand high via Skipton’s online booking system, though with enough tee time slots likely to be available for all members to get a game within the first week.

While the two captains, joined on the first tee by men’s vice-captain Roger Moore and member Sarah Howes, hoped all would enjoy their first outing after such a long time not swinging a club, they were also keen to remind all concerned that social distancing restrictions remain in place.

Head green keeper Ian Brown and chair of greens, Danny Hughes, report that the course is in excellent condition and will play well. “Greens have been cut, slit and fed and are good to go. Fairways are mown and defined and will be on preferred lies for the next two or three weeks. All bunkers are prepared, raked and in play,” they comment.

While four balls are allowed, it will be social golf only for the first few weeks. The first competition is scheduled for this coming Easter Monday - a 9 hole pairs comp, any gender, followed by a 9 hole individual stableford, with a nearest the pin on the 12th.

“It’s a free and flexible prize competition sponsored by the club as a thank you to all the members who have been so patient and understanding during the last couple of months,” say the two captains, who will be manning the Halfway House to wish members a very happy return! They will also be providing some freebies with an Easter theme, free soft drinks, tea or coffee, and running a raffle to enhance their respective captains’ charities.

The club says entries for this year’s knockout competitions are going well, with the deadline this coming Monday, April 5. They can be made via Skipton’s professional Peter Robinson, one of the longest serving golf club pros in the country.

The winter programme of drainage, pathway creation and tree pruning/thinning has now been completed, with just some minor finishing touches required. It forms part of a planned programme of continuous improvements to the landmark 18-hole course, which was remodelled in 2018 to provide two brand-new par 4 holes, creating a par 71 course with three par 3s, 13 par 4s and two par 5s, offering challenges to all standards of golfers.

Since its launch the new-look course - a new slope rating under the World Handicap System ranks Skipton as one of most challenging courses in the region.