While many clubs and golf courses around the world remain closed, leaders are making plans so they can restart quickly once given the all-clear to resume operations. Also in today’s report: The Capitol Hill Club and National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C. team up to provide meals for a local hospital; The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe introduces workout videos to keep members active; Peyton Manning leads an all-star cast in offering auctions to join them for golf and raise money for COVID-19 relief; Arcis Golf joins the ClubsHELP cause, and Jonas Club Software’s MemberInsight offers free survey services.
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/.
Clubs Plan for a Return
Across the world, discussions are now turning to what reopening during—and following–the pandemic would include.
As of April 15, golf courses were still closed in Minnesota throughout the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tim Walz, but management at clubs throughout the state are getting plans in place to be ready if they are allowed to open up in the coming weeks, the Alexandria Echo Press reported.
As part of the executive order to extend the stay-at-home policy in Minnesota to May 4, golf course grounds crew workers are now able to maintain their courses, the Echo Press reported. Previously, individual government entities had to declare golf course employees as essential. All courses can be maintained even while they remain closed to the public, and Walz has sounded optimistic in recent press conferences to the possibility of allowing courses to open for play as long as a plan can be put in place to do it safely as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think golf will be able to be played here in some form,” Grant Hanson, Head Golf Professional at the Geneva Golf Club in Alexandria, Minn. said on April 14. “We’re obviously hopeful for that. I know our facility is going to go above and beyond. We’re going to be very strict about cleaning and doing everything we can to keep people safe and our employees safe.”
Those plans to ensure golfers are safe and abiding by social distancing guidelines at courses are being talked about on a near daily basis at local clubs, the Echo Press reported. Hanson said that Geneva Golf Club is fortunate in that it has a blueprint to look at due to its ownership group, Thompson Golf Group, also owning three courses in Arizona. People are allowed to golf in Arizona, though under rules that look much different than golfers are used to.
Changes in place to help ensure player safety include spraying down carts with a cleaning solution after each use, the Echo Press reported. Cups are being flipped upside down so the ball only falls an inch into the hole. Pins are required to be left in and bunker rakes have been removed.
“Limiting the contact points throughout the golf course is the main idea,” Hanson said.
Some courses are set up to take online payments, the Echo Press reported. The number of players in a group could be limited, and adding additional minutes between tee times to ensure more separation on courses has also been used.
“Personally, I’ve been researching constantly what courses are doing in the south and just seeing what golf looks like there,” Kyle Lee, Head Golf Professional at the Alexandria Golf Club, said. “Our plan is to be very fluid. It’s going to change constantly. That’s kind of where we’re at right now, but we’re working very, very hard to make sure we’re ready.”
Lee did not want to lay out exactly what a plan might look like at AGC due to how rapidly evolving the situation is around COVID-19, the Echo Press reported.
“I can tell you this. Golf is going to look different,” he said. “When that day comes, I’m going to have a very comprehensive list of what Alexandria Golf Club looks like.”
Kim Niehoff, Clubhouse Manager at the Osakis Country Club, also did not want to talk about a specific plan the course might have until after the board of directors had a chance to meet to go over more details, the Echo Press reported.
“We are 100 percent confident we will keep our golfers safe and hope to get them on the course as soon as we can,” Niehoff said.
Courses all over the state will have guidelines in place, the Echo Press reported. An onus will also be on golfers to make sure they abide by a new normal in order to ensure that the opportunity to play continues.
“Obviously, we’re going to have the policies in place, and we’re going to enforce them and keep you safe when you’re coming to the golf course,” Hanson said. “When you’re out there playing, you’re going to have to self police a little bit. Anyone could ruin it for other people, but I think people are going to be respectful because golf will be one of the safest things you can do and still have some activity and interaction, be outside and do it safely.”
Most courses in the Douglas County area open up in mid-April during a typical year. That’s dependent on weather, but an already short season for golfers and those in the golf business will no doubt be affected, the Echo Press reported. Clubhouses and restaurants at courses are not likely to be fully operational, if open at all, during the beginning stages of golfers getting back on the course.
“I think we have to look at it this way. What industry is this not going to affect?” Lee said. “We’re all in this together. There’s no doubt that it’s going to change things. I feel like golf is very fortunate because it’s something that all of us want to do right now. When that day comes, what does it look like?”
Course managers are putting the final pieces together on plans to answer that question and are eager to welcome golfers back through proper safety measures if given the OK, the Echo Press reported.
“At the end of the day, it’s making sure our community is safe and that we don’t overload our hospital systems in rural America,” Lee said. “Golf is an avenue that people are searching for to get out of the house and do something. When that day comes, we hope to be really ready and diligently practice social distancing at AGC. It’s a whole new world.”
—In New York State clubs may have to issue an extra item as part of their re-opening process. Essential Business employers are now required to provide “face coverings” for all employees who interact with the public or customers.
· This should apply to any and all employers who have employees working that are potentially exposed to customers or the public. Interaction between co-workers is not considered direct contact with the public;
· These face coverings must be provided at the employer’s expense; however, employees can provide their own if they wish;
· Face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g., homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators and face shields. To comply, employees must be wearing the face cover – other fixtures/installations/barriers to prevent exposure do not qualify as meeting this new standard; and
· Employers should require employees to wear these coverings when interacting with customers or face potential penalties including fines of up to $2,000.
—Reopening golf clubs in Ireland before a coronavirus vaccine is found can be done “relatively safely,” The Irish Times quoted a leading medical expert as saying.
“Golf is played outside in the open air, and almost always two metres away from other players,” Professor Sam McConkey, head of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, told The Irish Times.
“So my opinion is that playing golf, even two or four players from different houses together, could be done relatively safely if sick people and their contacts stay away, people come dressed and do not use changing rooms, gyms or the clubhouse facilities. A national guidance plan is the best way forward, not each club deciding itself.”
In a joint statement on March 24, the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union recommended that “all golf clubs, practice facilities and courses across the island close with immediate effect,” The Irish Times reported. The government’s Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place until at least May 8, with access to sporting clubs significantly down the list of priorities when easing of restrictions does occur.
The best conditions, McConkey told The Irish Times, for sport to return in 2020 is to “imitate” New Zealand’s strict lockdown. Both New Zealand and Australia have closed their borders to foreigners and imposed 14-day quarantine on returning residents.
“I’m optimistic New Zealand will succeed,” McConkey said. “The Chinese have succeeded. Wuhan had a horrible outbreak, thousands of people got Covid-19, but they are now back going to cafes and restaurants in very normal social activity. That’s when sport can return to normal in our own country.
“The reason we cannot be as stringent as New Zealand is the good people of Northern Ireland do not agree with each other, they have not agreed with each other for 100 years and they do not agree with us. So there is a political problem.”
“For many, many decades smarter people than you and I have failed on that one. There have been Nobel prizes won and lost by people trying to solve that problem, and still they are not agreeing with each other. Robin Swann and Michelle O’Neill are still fighting [over British army assistance in NI] despite being in the same cabinet.
“Sport is possible to restart safely in the future with detailed planning, risk management and high levels of adherence,” McConkey said.
—The City of Caldwell, Idaho announced the opening of the Purple Sage and Fairview golf courses with social-distancing modifications, CBS2 reported. The courses will open April 17 following Gov. Little’s extended stay-at-home order.
Purple Sage will be open to the back nine holes only Monday through Friday, CBS2 reported. The front-nine course will undergo maintenance for the golf cart path. All 18 holes will be open Saturday and Sunday. The driving range at Purple Sage will be closed until further notice.
Clubhouses will be open for golf transactions and limited concession purchases, CBS2 reported. All other meal service is suspended until further notice.
“We greatly appreciate the patience from our golfers and community,” the city wrote. “The City of Caldwell recognizes that recreation is an important part of remaining healthy. We wish to encourage recreation while remaining in compliance with both Idaho and the federal government’s social distancing orders. We ask that those using the courses remain respectful of the modifications. The health of our citizens remains our highest priority and we continue to work in conjunction with our local health districts, state and federal governments to ensure the wellbeing of our community.”
—Following a brief closure of the four city of St. George, Utah golf courses intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the St. George City Council, in conjunction with the St. George Golf Division, has announced the reopening of all city-owned courses to Washington County residents only beginning April 17, St. George News reported. The city’s four golf courses include Dixie Red Hills, Sunbrook Golf Club, Southgate Golf Club and St. George Golf Club.
“Our decision to close the golf courses was influenced by two major factors: data and the need to limit visitors, particularly during the spring break time period,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said in a press release. “Today, the data is promising, and spring breaks are over, so we are happy to announce that our golf courses will be reopening—with some extra precautions in place.”
For now, the new normal involves additional temporary safety measures to limit touch points and maintain a high level of sanitation. Restrooms will be open and cleaned regularly throughout the day, St. George News reported. The pro shop will be closed, and customers will not be allowed in the clubhouse other than to use the restrooms. Only credit card payments will be accepted—over the phone on the day of play. No cash will be accepted.
“We have been busy maintaining our courses throughout this break and they will be in great shape for players come Friday,” Colby Cowan, Director of Golf Operations said in the release. “We do ask for your patience during the early days of our reopening as there are some new details that we will need to work through in real-time.”
Crossing State Lines
While last week’s clarification of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to stay at home closed a majority of golf courses in the region, Philip J. Rotella Memorial Golf Course in Pomona, N.Y. continues to operate, the Westchester Journal News reported. There were nearly 100 cars in the parking lot at noon April 15 and golfers were out in force taking advantage of an oasis in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Most were adhering to social distancing rules and several work masks.
“The governor closed all state and private courses,” Haverstraw town Supervisor Howard Phillips said. “He left it up to the local municipalities to choose whether or not they were going to close.”
More than half the cars in the parking lot at Rotella had New Jersey plates, the Journal News reported.
“Everybody has been advised of the rules and we really have everybody cooperating,” Phillips said. “We haven’t had problems with people being on top of each other. They have been very conscientious about what they’re doing and I think we’ve taken every precaution.
“I think there’s a greater likelihood contracting the coronavirus at the supermarket or the gas station than there is at our course.”
According to Phillips, the grounds crew has been scaled back to six members, the Journal News reported. There is one employee in the pro shop issuing receipts and one starter checking them.
“If we catch anyone violating social-distancing rules, we ask them to leave the course,” he said.
There are no rangers making the rounds, however, the Journal News reported.
Marinas in Dry Dock
New York’s new edict to close marinas and boat launches for recreational boating to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus is putting thousands of employees out of work and prohibiting thousands more from warmer weather pursuits, Newsday reported. For Long Island skipper Christopher Squeri, last weekend was the first Easter he hasn’t spent on the water with his wife and son for as long as he can remember.
“I get it. I’ve known people who have passed away from this virus,” said Squeri, who is also executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association based in Amityville. “But at the same time, I look at it as we’re trying to do things the right way, and do it safely to protect people we know and love.”
The order came just as boating season was opening, Newsday reported. Studies indicate annual boating and related activities account for about $4.1 billion on Long Island. Coupled with golf, the industries combine to produce 50,000 to 100,000 jobs, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Trust for Public Land and the Rauch Foundation.
Long Island’s economy “has been crippled since the onset of this pandemic,” said Discover Long Island President & CEO Kristen Jarnagin. “The additional closure of golf courses and marinas continues to challenge an already suffering industry. However, the safety of our residents is the utmost priority and we respect the steps taken now to ensure that we can reopen all businesses and recover as swiftly as possible.”
On Long Island, there is understanding, but concern, Newsday reported.
“You’re talking about thousands of employees,” Squeri said. “There are a lot of industries in a tough spot and we really are no different than anybody else, but we are looking at it as a marina where employees are working outside … we won’t have office or sales staff and everyone is at least 10- or 20-feet apart at all times.”
Marina owners are continuing to appeal the state’s decision, Newsday reported.
D.C. Clubs Partner to Feed Front-Liners
Executive Chefs Marcus Worley of the Capitol Hill Club and Troy Jackson of the National Democratic Club are front and center, happily preparing lunches for doctors and nurses at National Children’s Hospital. The two clubs have teamed up and plan to continue donating to first responders and medical personnel at least once a week. Stan Lawson, General Manager of Capitol Hill Club, and Banquet Manager Tom Galvin load up an SUV for delivery.
Read more about what the club is doing HERE.
News from the PGA Tour
—Golf Digest reported that the PGA Tour will restart its season in mid-June in Texas, without fans in attendance. Citing “multiple sources,” the report said that the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth will be the Tour’s first competition since early March, when the Players Championship was canceled after the first round. No fans will be allowed to attend at Colonial as the Tour deals with government and health officials’ recommended social-distancing guidelines to halt the spread of coronavirus.
The RBC Canadian Open, which is scheduled for June 11-14, will not be played, according to the report. Last week, the PGA Tour announced a revised schedule that preserved the three U.S. major championships, the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. The R&A recently canceled its British Open for the first time since 1945 and the end of World War II.
—Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said April 15 he would support the idea of holding the Travelers Championship golf tournament in June, even if that means fans might not be able to attend, the Associated Press reported. The PGA Tour plans to release a tentative schedule April 16.
The Travelers would keep its spot on June 25-28, but Lamont acknowledged that the public may not be allowed to attend, calling that a “new normal” for this year, the Associated Press reported. If the tour can stick to its modified schedule, it is expected to play without fans for a month.
“I kind of like that report, if it turns out to be true, that we’re going to have a chance at least on TV to enjoy a sport which showcases the best of Connecticut in a safe way,” Lamont said. “So, I don’t think that’s too soon.”
The tournament, which draws close to 300,000 fans to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. each year, raised more than $2.1 million for 150 local charities in 2019, the Associated Press reported.
—The Safeway Open announced that it will be the first tournament in the PGA Tour wraparound 2020-21 season, organizers said April 14. The tournament at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., will be played September 10 through 13, between the Tour Championship and the U.S. Open, rescheduled events on a 2019-20 calendar that has been reshuffled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Houston Open, which also is part of the 2020-21 fall schedule, announced that it will be played one week before the Masters, which was postponed from early April until mid-November.
—The Greenbrier resort announced that due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, it and the PGA TOUR have made a decision to not conduct The 2020 A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, scheduled for September 7 through 13. This decision was made collaboratively between the two organizations.
Additionally, The Greenbrier and the PGA TOUR have elected to cancel A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier for the remaining years of the contract, which was previously planned to run through 2026. The tournament moving to the fall has not served The Greenbrier as well as the event did in prior years when it was hosted over the July 4th week. With kids being back in school, the attractiveness for sponsors and the attendance for the fans dropped significantly.
“We are happy to reach a resolution with the PGA TOUR that is mutually beneficial to both parties in this time of crisis,” said Dr. Jill Justice, President of The Greenbrier.
“We owe a supreme debt of gratitude to Governor Jim Justice and his Greenbrier resort for a highly successful 10 years of partnership with the PGA TOUR,” said Andy Pazder, Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations for the PGA TOUR. “Governor Justice’s vision and leadership helped shine a light on the men and women that serve our country through the military and first responder programs he implemented through the tournament, and The Greenbrier resort was an incredibly unique and world-class venue that our players will always remember and cherish.”
The Bridges Launches Workout Video
The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.) introduced an “At-Home” Day 1 Circuit Workout Video by Mary Lou and Neil Mallinson. The Bridges Sports Centre will be releasing a series of 10 “At-Home” Circuit Workouts taught by club instructors over the next two weeks to help Bridges members stay active while the Sports Centre is temporarily closed.
Click HERE to watch the first video.
Stars Go All In for Charity
Peyton Manning is auctioning off dream packages for charity during these tough times. As part of the All In Challenge, Golf Digest reported that the five-time NFL MVP will make a special one-time trip to your home course to play a round of golf with you and two of your friends. And then he’ll eat a post-round meal with 10 of your friends at the restaurant of your choice.
The opening bid of $50,000 has quickly climbed to $80,000, Golf Digest reported. But it’s a great opportunity and it’s for an even better cause, with the money raised going directly Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry.
A golf and driving package involving Bubba Watson and NASCAR star Denny Hamlin is currently at a $100,000 bid. Bubba won’t come to your home course, but the two will take you and a friend out on Michael Jordan’s new private course in Hobe Sound, Fla., The Grove XIII.
And if six-figure bids are out of your price range right now, you could make much smaller donations to enter a drawing to win a Pebble Beach package featuring Justin Timberlake and Bill Murray.
As of the time of this post, the All In Challenge has already raised more than $6 million, Golf Digest reported.
Arcis Golf has pledged the support of its 61 clubs in 13 states, taking a significant leadership role in a new nationwide initiative, ClubsHELP.
Formed less than a week ago during the national health crisis, ClubsHELP connects golf clubs with hospitals in their local areas. Arcis Golf was among the first golf management companies to step up and access its extensive club network and key vendors to provide critically needed support to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
How the initiative works:
-A member or the management of each Arcis club will take on the role of captain.
-The club then ‘adopts’ or is matched with a local hospital.
-Working cooperatively, the most pressing needs at the hospital are identified, then clubs, companies, and individual donors pitch in to gather, collect, and deliver the most necessary items and resources to be used by hospital workers.
At this time, the greatest needs are basic food items that can be consumed quickly, PPE supplies, UV lighting for sterilization of phones and keys, and delivery services. Additionally, utilizing untapped commercial resources, raising money, or mobilizing a local delivery service are examples of ways that clubs are supporting local hospitals.
On an ongoing basis every Arcis property engages with its local community by donating rounds and amenities, holding tournaments and events that raise money for charities.
To be a captain, register your club, pledge support or get additional information, access the web site at www.clubshelp.org or text ClubsHELP to 71441.
—MemberInsight, a Jonas Club Software company, announced that their survey functionality is being made available to clubs at no charge for three months. Together, MemberInsight and GGA Partners will also co-host a webinar April 23 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the power of member surveys in the time of COVID-19.
“Many clubs send member surveys as a regular part of conducting business.” Said Trevor Coughlan, Vice President of Marketing at Jonas Club Software. “The problem is, many clubs only send them annually, and they think about surveying in a linear fashion – capital & long-term planning. I believe surveys relevant to the moment and the action taken as a result of them have the opportunity to invigorate the way members feel about a club and its staff. There is no better time for clubs to be stepping into action than now which is why we are proud to make our platform available at no charge for three months.”
In addition to the special offer, MemberInsight and GGA Partners are co-hosting a one-time webinar focusing on how clubs, regardless of their survey platform of choice, can better utilize members surveys during this difficult time. The webinar will be co-hosted by Trevor Kluke and Matt Cooper of Jonas Club Software, and Michael Gregory and Ben Hopkinson of GGA Partners and will take place on Thursday April 23, at 14:00 ET.
“In the current environment staying connected with members is a real challenge, but it’s more important than ever,” explained Michael Gregory, a Partner at GGA Partners. “Surveys are a tool all clubs can be using to stay engaged with their members, to capture important feedback, and to provide a level of comfort to members knowing their club is working hard to come out of this stronger and more capable of meeting their needs, wants and expectations.”
The presentation will cover the MemberInsight feature set, the science behind survey-based communications, and specific examples of surveys clubs can put into action as they remain committed to serving their members.
—Resort ecommerce and marketing platform Inntopia continues to ramp up their support of Goggles for Docs as the effort continues to gather momentum. Goggles for Docs helps facilitate donations of new or used ski goggles to health care workers on the front line battling COVID-19 who do not yet have access to personal protection equipment.
The campaign was started by Jon Schaefer, Owner and General Manager of Berkshire East Resort, and was launched with the help of Gregg Blanchard, Inntopia’s VP of Marketing on the afternoon of March 29, just under three weeks ago.
“I heard about what Jon was trying to organize and it instantly clicked that this could be something skiers could do to help,” said Blanchard. “Around noon we got on the phone while he was running some errands and talked through what we needed to get this launched. It was clear a website was top priority, so I spent that afternoon securing the domain name, building the site, and getting forms setup. By about 5pm we were live.”
Momentum quickly swelled for the initiative and donations began coming in immediately. By midday on April 3, more than 10,000 goggles had been donated. Five days later, total goggles donated passed 20,000. A week after reaching that milestone, Goggles for Docs has now connected skiers, snowboarders, gear brands, and more with hospitals in need to the tune of 30,000 total pairs of goggles.
Along the way, hundreds of volunteers offered to help. Among them, more than a dozen Inntopia employees. Many of these employees were software developers who helped Inntopia CEO, Trevor Crist, tweak the company’s booking engine – typically used by resorts to sell hotel rooms and lift tickets – to more securely and easily track donors and inventory for the 300+ hospitals who had requested goggles through the program.
“After a week or so running the effort on a complex network of spreadsheets, we saw a way to take our platform and tweak it slightly so donors could search for hospitals in need and record their donation,” said Crist. “Instead of hotels with the number of rooms still available, visitors saw hospitals with the numbers of goggles each still needed. It’s helped immensely to streamline the process and connect skiers and riders with the right health care facilities.”
Tell Us What You Think!
You must be logged in to post a comment.