European Tour

Italian golfers swing again as lockdown eases

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

One of Italy's best known golf clubs has reopened after two months of lockdown with a handful of players returning to the links under new social distancing rules.

San Domenico Golf in Apulia in the heel of Italy's boot and neighbouring luxury resort Borgo Egnazia reopened at the weekend but face an uncertain future.

"We closed at the beginning of March," said Aldo Melpignano, owner of Borgo Egnazia, where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel held their wedding in 2012.

"But this week the Apulia Region allowed some individual sports to resume and golf is one of them. We jumped at the chance and decided to reopen immediately at the weekend."

The resort and golf club will initially rely on Italian guests but hopes that foreigners will soon also return.

"We're resigned to this reality at least for the summer," he said.

Notable changes in the rules on the greens are that players must keep at least three metres apart when hitting the ball and not remove the flag from the hole.

European Tour professional Francesco Laporta has returned to training in the open after two months of hitting balls into a net in his garden.

Laporta hopes the season will resume again at the end of July.

"There will certainly be new rules to respect," he said, including the lack of spectators.

"I think the caddie will be able to keep on following us, working close to us," he said.

There are around 260 golf clubs in Italy and the sport remains largely a sport for the rich.

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