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Back in the swing: the simple joy of returning to the golf course | Vic Marks

Changing rooms out of bounds, rakes removed from bunkers and no roll-ups, but a round of golf in Devon was never sweeter

The fairway was newly mown and welcoming; a yellow flag, 350 yards away, flickered in the chill breeze descending off Dartmoor as the sun made an appearance through wispy clouds. With driver in hand and provisional ball in pocket I stepped on to the first tee at Okehampton Golf Club and, for the first time in a couple of months, attempted to hit a golf ball further than the seven yards available in the back garden. What a relief to swing that club, not just because the ball was soon airborne in vaguely the right direction; here was a glimmer that life might one day return to normal.

The club pro, Ashley, had greeted us on the first tee. They do not usually have a starter at Okehampton, perhaps the friendliest, unstuffiest club in Devon. But this felt like a special occasion; the club was coming back to life and so too were its golfers. The course was in superb condition, the fairways neatly manicured, the bluebells in bloom, the greens fast and true and treacherous (still). Ricki, the course manager, had still been out there cutting the grass at 9pm on Tuesday to make sure everything was perfect; neither he nor the greenkeeper, Mike, had been furloughed; instead this pair had obviously been busy over the past two months.

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