High demand for Northampton outdoor sports facilities ahead of long-awaited return next week
'I think there's an awful lot of people that see it as a way to get out and do something and see their friends'
Demand for outdoor sports in Northampton is unsurprisingly high as people will be allowed to play with their friends again from one week today (Monday, March 22).
From Monday, March 29, places like golf courses, tennis courts and outdoor swimming can reopen while organised outdoor team sports can also restart.
Tee times and court slots are at a premium for the first few days and weekend but many are looking forward to doing something different and seeing their friends again.
William Rice, of Brampton Heath Golf Centre, said: "It's been a long wait, it's going to be over three months we have been shut now as have many businesses.
"I think there's an awful lot of people that see it as a way to get out and do something and see their friends - people are very keen to get back.
"It's very busy as we expected - we opened it up for five or six days and because the hours are going to be longer so there's more availability than in December at least hopefully and the forecast is looking nice for Monday."
Other outdoor sports facilities, which have been closed since the third lockdown began on January 5, due to reopen include basketball courts, football and rugby pitches, and more.
Golf courses in particular have had to keep up with maintenance during the national shutdown so staff have still been working with no money coming in.
William said it is important they can reopen to get the cash flow going again but is looking forward to the bar and restaurant being able to reopen hopefully in April.
"I think our staff are looking forward to it as they're all fed up of being at home and golf is a social sport so I think they will be pleased to be back," he added.
Coaches will also be able to run sessions once again, just in time as well with the Easter holidays starting for most school children next week too.
Simon Gallo, the head coach at Northampton Tennis Club, will be looking after around 100 kids a day over the holidays at his camps, as well as the regular coaching he does.
"I think everyone is missing sport as something to do so a lot of people are ready to come back and I'm expecting it to be very busy," he said.
Simon hopes the return will result in a boost in people taking up tennis and other sports as well as memberships, as they saw after the first lockdown last summer.
Although the simultaneous restart of team sports may reduce that as there is more choice than there was when only solo sports could be played, he admitted.
"People are booking the courts up already and it's getting busy - I think tennis and golf clubs are going to be the place to be," he said.