GOUROCK Golf Club welcomed the return of nearly 1,000 members back onto its fairways over the weekend after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Club pro Derek Watters says he is delighted at the number of people who were keen to get back on the course straight away - and has revealed that almost 100 new people are joining the club.

Golfers are restricted to nine holes on the course at the moment but they will be able to play the full 18 by the weekend.

Derek said: “It’s been a great first weekend back.

"The members have been very good in taking on board the 'new way to play golf' as we’re calling it.

"They are only allowed to turn up fifteen minutes before their tee time and there’s a new route around the course to keep social distancing in place.

“I was adding up some of the figures and 275 members played on Friday, we had just under 250 on Saturday and we were soon well on our way to 250 on Sunday.

"The volume has been fantastic considering the circumstances and we’re all enjoying it.

“We’ve been blessed with the weather recently as well, which couldn’t have gone any better for us.

“We were lucky enough to get a bit of TV coverage on Friday there with some shots being taken for ‘The Nine’ on BBC Scotland, so we couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

“That can only help us to attract newer visitors and hopefully newer members as the restrictions continue to be lifted.

“We’re strictly members-only at the moment purely down to the fact that our members have continued to pay their fees during the lockdown, which they didn’t need to do.

"Once we move into phase two, we’ll then maybe be able to offer some tee times to guests.

“There’s a market there for us which maybe wasn’t there previously and in the last week or so we’ve been able to bring in 40 new members and are in dialogue to bring in another potential 40.

“It’s great to see such an interest just now, especially when all we can offer is the golf course and not any of the facilities.

“Looking forward this could really help us bring in generations of potential members who wouldn’t have come otherwise.”

Derek praised the staff who have managed to keep the course in pristine condition over the course of the lockdown and says the future for the club - and local golf scene in general - looks bright.

He told the Tele: “I can only see golf in Inverclyde thriving going forward.

“I speak to colleagues who are at Greenock and Whinhill and they’re saying the same, the demand is there.

“There are people who are wanting to try golf who’ve never picked a club up before, so it’s most definitely exciting times.

“The whole thought of that pleases me and during lockdown I’ll admit I never envisaged our sport being this popular.

“I must give a shout out to the greenkeepers here though.

"Since they’ve been taken off of the furlough they have worked tirelessly to keep the course looking fantastic, and the members are getting all the rewards of that.”