(Photo of Winged Foot GC by Tania Savayan/The Journal News)
Also in today’s summary: How the Families First Response Act may help clubs avoid permanent layoffs; Summer Olympics are postponed and Winged Foot GC is forced to close, but can still maintain its U.S. Open course; event at Trump National GC in California leaves 16 of 65 attendees ill, several with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Here is C+RB‘s latest roundup and summary of club-related developments surrounding the pandemic that have recently been reported. Please send updates on what your property is doing that you would like to share with the C+RB community to [email protected].
All of C+RB’s daily updates on the coronavirus situation can be found at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/covid-19/
• Denehy Club Thinking Partners has been compiling a “Top 10” list of “compelling concepts” that it has come across while working with its clients and researching industry response to the pandemic. The consulting firm’s latest list, distributed on March 24th, included these suggestions and insights:
- Shorehaven Golf Club (Norwalk, Conn.) and Ridgewood Country Club (Paramus, N.J.) are raising cups slightly above the putting surface and deeming any putt to hit the cup as holed, to eliminate the need to touch the cup or flagstick. And don’t forget to remove the rack.
- Culinary teams are providing video cooking classes for members who may not be facile with their kitchens or knives.
- Clubs are creating microsites on their club websites to retail a limited number of mainstream, soft- and hard-good options.
- Golf professionals are providing custom videos to members to practice putting at home. Members then video their own “practice facilities” and share those videos with other members via the website.
- Clubs should lead with a multi-faceted humanistic management approach and begin thestructuring of an Employee Assistance Fund. Create the guiding principles, even if it doesn’t get actualized.
- Where permitted, sell bottled wine at cost with a member’s takeout dinner that can be picked up curbside.
- Create online gaming for members—social gaming facilitated by the club, such as bridge and mahjong, to keep those usual groups connected virtually.
- Where appropriate in certain clubs, create a “private pantry”—a limited grocery store offering access to those items that are in limited supply: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. (Thanks to Bill Griffon, General Manager/COO, Spring Island in Spring Island, S.C., for this suggestion.)
- Curbside pickup or home delivery are great, but engineer the menu to be more family-style which is easier to manage, increases the check average and helps to shape inventories. If the purchase is over a certain amount, include a free roll of toilet paper.
- Review every policy in the book. Every SINGLE one. Then the club’s customs. Determine which ones you need to remain steadfast with, and which can be modified.
The Denehy list also included “two big strategic concepts for our industry today:”
Given the velocity of change, don’t plan more than a week out. Create a plan, consider all options and subroutines and live that plan for the week. Reset.
Make decisions that ultimately keep the club relevant to your members and their families, and trust the rest will follow. Without this guiding principle, many clubs will run out of members.
The Denehy Club Thinking Partners website now includes a special page for coronavirus-related resources and articles, at https://denehyctp.com/covid19/
- Forbes magazine published a guide to “What Employers Need to Know About [the] Families First Coronavirus Response Act” that was signed by President Trump on March 18th to address leave policies for employees affected by the public health emergency.
“For those employers desperately contemplating permanence reductions in force as a last resort to maintain financial viability, permanent layoffs may not be necessary at all” because of provisions in the new law, which takes effect April 2, 2020 and will remain effective until December 31, 2020, the Forbes article said.
The Forbes article, which focused on the economic stimulus measures of the Act pertaining to Emergency Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave provisions, can be viewed here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelstudenka/2020/03/19/time-to-hit-pause-what-employers-need-to-know-about-yesterdays-families-first-coronavirus-response-act/#16a8680f11cb
- In a move that has seemed inevitable for more than a week, the 2020 Summer Olympics have become the latest sports event—and by far the biggest—to be postponed as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The summer games had been set to take place from July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, but Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on the morning of March 24th that he had reached an agreement with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to postpone the Olympics for a year, until no later than summer 2021.
The IOC confirmed the decision in a statement: “In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the [World Health Organization] today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
• Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., scheduled to host the U.S. Open June 18-21, was closed as part of the executive order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shutter all “non-essential businesses” in the state as of Sunday night, March 22. Winged Foot is still allowed to keep essential personnel at the club, with restrictions, which will be enough to allow its course maintenance staff to continue to tend to the West Course, a 1923 A.W. Tillinghast design that was renovated by Gil Hanse in 2015 and would be used for the Open.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has not yet made a decision on whether to hold the Open as scheduled, but it recently canceled early rounds of qualifying and also confirmed reports that it was exploring a possible move to alternate sites, including Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. Mamaroneck is in New York State’s Westchester County, one of the hardest hit by confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“There are multiple variables that we need to consider, including the CDC and local guidelines,” the USGA’s Chief Brand Officer, Craig Annis, told The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y. on March 23rd. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and making relevant contingency plans. We expect to make a decision sometime in the middle of April.”
The USGA staffers who had been working at Winged Foot are now sheltering in place at various locations in Westchester County, The Journal News reported.
Preparations for the Open began to slow earlier this month at Winged Foot and were halted altogether a week ago, The Journal News reported. Only the protective bases that provide support for major infrastructure are in place. No grandstands or hospitality structures have been erected.
“We simply did not want to put anyone at risk,” Annis told The Journal News via e-mail. “While construction onsite at Winged Foot has stopped for now, we are continuing to hold the dates for the U.S. Open in June and will monitor all available guidance and regulations from the [Center for Disease Control], [World Health Organization] and other federal, state and local authorities, to do what is in the best interests of the community.”
- Eater LA reported that more than a dozen people are reportedly sick after an event was held on March 8th at the fine-dining restaurant of Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
The exclusive event, a 70th birthday party for former Rancho Palos Verdes mayor Susan Brooks, has resulted in 16 of the 65 attendees falling ill, with several of those cases now confirmed to be COVID-19, Eater LA reported.
Brooks, who has since tested positive for COVID-19, told Easy Reader News that she cautioned those invited to the event to stay home if they felt sick in any way, and also advised in a message to attendees that they keep a respectful distance throughout the event.
The group included a variety of mostly older people from around Rancho Palos Verdes, including current Fourth District county supervisor Janice Hahn, who is now self-quarantining at her home. Two unidentified male guests have been hospitalized and are on ventilators, Easy Reader Newsreported.
Brooks told Easy Reader News she could now see how easy it might have been for so many to fall ill at the event, even with her suggestion to maintain social distancing while in the same room. “Maybe the virus was passed around by the hors d’oeuvres tray,” she noted, before adding: “There were people mad at me because I didn’t invite them. But they’re not mad at me now.”
The city of Los Angeles had declared a state of emergency on March 4th but had not yet called for restrictive measures on public gatherings or at dine-in restaurants when the March 8th event was held, Eater LA reported.