COLCHESTER touring professional Dale Whitnell admits European Tour chiefs will have some tough decisions to make in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 31-year-old is currently back at home in Essex, after the Tour was suspended in March due to the global Covid-19 crisis.

It is uncertain when the Tour will resume, with the British Masters - scheduled to take place at the Lee Westwood Colt Course near Newcastle at the end of July - mooted as a possible return tournament.

But Whitnell, who clinched his place on the European Tour last November, acknowledges there is a lot that still needs to be discussed, before the sport returns on a professional level.

The Forrester Park Golf Club pro said: "The Tour has dealt with it really well - they've been changing the schedule on a weekly basis, in order to be ready to play when the time comes that we can.

"They've been in touch with us on a regular basis, letting us know what's going on but they've got some big decisions to make.

"I wouldn't like to be in their tough position, because I think there will be people upset whatever they do.

"We have to be really sure when the world eventually returns to a more normal situation and competitive situation.

"You're not just talking about players.

"It's about caddies too and also things like flags, because someone has to get it out of the hole and bunkers still need to be raked.

"The other aspect is the travel situation.

"It's a side of the Tour that we as players don't have any control over.

"Some players might not be able to get to certain events and play in them because their country might not let them fly, even if they wanted to.

"Everyone's chomping at the bit to get back out there, because it's our livelihood.

"Some of the guys are part-time and some are full-time; I'm full-time.

"Luckily, the Tour have give us the potential for financial hardship funds.

"But I've rejected it because I feel that's the right thing to do and I'd like to think the top players who are in a much wealthier position will be the same.

"I think it's important to try and help the Tour at the moment, because they might potentially be struggling with things in the future because of this.

"The hardest thing for me is that we don't know when we might be coming back.

"It's difficult - I spent 20 years of my life trying to get on the Tour and then this happens!

"I think it's made me realise that it's easy to take things for granted and I'm playing a sport I love for a living.

"It's a bit crazy and it's not something we can do anything about.

"But there's no point dwelling on it and there have actually been some good things about the situation."

Whitnell's last tournament before the Tour was suspended was the Qatar Masters, at the start of March.

"I found out about the suspension when I was having lunch in the players lounge, during the tournament in Qatar," said Tiptree-based Whitnell, who clinched a coveted place on the European Tour last November.

"The Tour CEO Keith Pelley came in and told us that the next scheduled tournament in Kenya had been cancelled.

"Italy’s Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli were quarantined before the Oman Open but were eventually released and were able to play.

"The Kenya tournament was cancelled, then the Malaysian and China events.

"Every week, we were getting notifications that others were being cancelled."

Whitnell has been getting plenty of practice in during the lockdown period by using special indoor facilities.

"I've managed to do a lot of physical training and work on some technical stuff, with my swing," he said.

"I'm lucky to have fitted a net and a 2x2 metre indoor mat and it's helped me out wonders.

"I'm able to do lots of practice and I've been taking Zoom lessons with my coach."

Golf clubs were given the green light to open their courses again on Wednesday, after the government eased its lockdown measures.

Whitnell added: "It's great that people can go and play golf again but there are so many things that could make it a recipe for disaster.

"As soon as someone says you can go and play golf, it's an excuse for people to go out with their mates and play.

"I feel like it's encouraging people to socialise together and it's very hard to relax the situation lightly."