A golf club has been left baffled after 15 of its flags - which mark the holes - were stolen just days after the coronavirus lockdown was lifted on the sport, enabling play to resume.
Now St Neots Golf Club may take up the offer of a scuba-diving member to search lakes and waterways on the 110 acre course in case the flags, worth around £1,000, had been dumped there.
Steve Searle, club manager, believes that whoever took the flags knew the layout of the course because the three flags which were left behind were in areas covered by CCTV cameras.
The flags had been specially fitted with a “ball lifter” designed by a club member so that players did not have to touch the flagpoles as a precaution against Covid-19, one of the conditions for the sport to resume after a couple of months in lockdown.
Mr Searle said: “I simply do not understand why someone would want to do something like that.
“It has certainly been done by someone who is familiar with the course because the three flags which were left in place were covered by CCTV.”
The safe hole flags were ready for when the course reopened for play on Wednesday after its enforced closure but were stolen on Friday night, leaving Mr Searle and others to improvise replacements so desperate golfers could play on Saturday.
Mr Searle did not think the missing flags were a vendetta against golfers by people worried about the health implications of the sport restarting at a time when most other sporting activities were still closed.
“Golf is about as socially distancing as you can get,” Mr Searle said. “What we have done is put rules in place so that only two people go out every 10 minutes.”
He said players would abide by the regulation to be two metres apart during their game.
Mr Searle said the disappearance of the flags was a mystery because 15 were unlikely to be of any use to any other 18 hole course and that the flags were too far out of the way for casual vandalism.
He said that while the course was closed the club had allowed members of the public to walk there, although access to the land was now limited by play resuming.
Mr Searle said the course contained lakes and waterways, adding: “A scuba-diving member has offered to go an look for them in the lakes.”
He said it was a members’ club which meant the cost of damage and repairs had to be met by the members and that the club relied on a lot of voluntary work.
The theft of the flags has been reported to the police.