The Middletown, Wis. club has partnered with a supplier of food-safe products approved for commercial foodservice applications, to provide an extra layer of property-wide protection that lasts 90 days and “takes the safety of members and staff to a whole new level.” Also in this update: Courses in Pennsylvania, South Florida and Washington state get ready for golfers’ return; Michigan’s walking-only requirement leads to creative pull-cart options; members of Boca Woods CC salute front-line staff with a special tribute; and Tyson Foodservice supports The Great American Takeout and Everyday Hero initiatives.
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/.
Ensuring a Safe Return
Bishops Bay Country Club in Middleton, Wis. has posted a YouTube video with a message that is designed to help assure members that the club “is building the perfect environment for [them] to come back to,” reports Chief Operating Officer Jeff Murray.
“We are doing our daily cleaning and sanitizing routine, but that is not enough,” Murray says. “I have partnered with Biodome, the makers of BioProtect products, to put an added protective covering over our facility to protect our members and staff that lasts 90 days and will help to build confidence with our members.”
The description with the video posting says:
“Bishops Bay takes the safety of members and staff to a whole new level. Cleaning and sanitizing daily with the added protection of BioProtect from Biodome. We are leading the way by redefining excellence!”
In the 1-minute, 43-second video, Murray introduces photos and footage that show how the club has followed Center for Disease Control guidelines for property-wide sanitation and has partnered with Biodome to also disinfect with the patented BioProtect products, which are approved for commercial foodservice applications and are food-safe. “This extra layer of protection is unique to Bishops Bay and ensures the best sanitation available,” Murray says in the video.
“This is our year of leading the way by redefining excellence, and we’re doing just that,” Murray adds. “Thank you very much for your continued support and your trust, and we will see you soon.”
View the Bishops Bay video here: https://youtu.be/9QmF1BX6-qs
More Places to Play: Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington
There was a collective sigh of relief as deep as one of Oakmont Country Club’s bunkers from golfers and course owners across Pennsylvania when Gov. Tom Wolf announced on April 27th that golf courses in the state, which had been shut down since March 13, can reopen on Friday, May 1st, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Wolf’s decision, which was announced Monday, includes all public and private courses, in addition to driving ranges. Courses have been allowed to maintain their properties during the shutdown because maintenance crews—and landscape businesses—were considered “essential services.”
“We’re alive…We’re back in business,” said Jim Antkiewicz, Director of Golf at the Club at Nevillewood in Presto, Pa. “Everyone is jumping out of their skin.”
Courses will have to maintain strict guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are practiced in other states such as Ohio and West Virginia where courses were allowed to remain open.
Pro shops can be open for limited business, but restaurants and dining areas have to be closed. Private clubs will not provide bag storage or club or shoe cleaning.
“That’s great news — what else can you say,” said PGA professional Sam Depe III, who owns Hickory Heights Golf Club in Bridgeville, Pa.. “But it’s long overdue, I think. I’m all for the social distance and everything, but golf is safer than trout fishing.”
Golf course owners, private clubs and all the top organizations in the state—including the Tri-State section of the PGA of America, Western Pennsylvania Golf Association and Pennsylvania Golf Association—have been petitioning the governor for weeks to allow courses to remain open during the stay-at-home order, the Post-Gazette reported, but Wolf rejected all their requests.
“With golf coming back, we need to be as safe and responsible as possible,” said Dave Wright, Tri-State PGA’s executive director, who held a webinar for 70 club professionals on April 17 on preparing courses to reopen. “Everybody is excited now, but after the excitement wears off, it will be about what guidelines do we have to follow.”
Even though courses were ordered to close, members at some private clubs were still surreptitiously playing golf, out of view of the public and, more importantly, police, the Post-Gazette reported. Most private clubs, though, prohibited their members from playing, including Oakmont and the Club at Nevillewood. But not anymore.
“They can’t wait to play,” Antkiewicz said. “They even said, ‘We have rain suits. If it’s raining, we’re still going.’”
Ryan Granruth, General Manager of Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, called the reopening announcement “a nice break, especially with such an onslaught of bad news with the economy [and] with jobs. Being able to take a mental-health break and get out to a golf course and get some exercise as well [is] phenomenal.”
Lancaster CC had to furlough 100 of its 125 employees when courses were closed, but is now looking to bring them back, with the help of club members who have contributed to a fund to help the workers who were laid off.
In Florida, golf courses, parks, boat ramps, marinas, fishing piers, pools and tennis and basketball courts will begin reopening on April 29th, as officials announced that Palm Beach County has turned the corner in the fight against the deadly coronavirus, The Palm Beach Post reported.
When the announcement was made on April 27th, the sport had been shut down in the “golf capital of the world” for 34 days because of the pandemic.
While beaches will remain off-limits and strict social-distancing rules will be enforced, County Health Director Alina Alonso said that a steady drop in cases prompted the decision to reopen recreational outlets so people can return to the outdoors, The Post reported.
“This does not mean we’re back to normal in any way, shape or form,” Alonso said during an afternoon press conference. “I would say social distancing is more important than before because we don’t want to see those numbers go back up.”
Tennis and pickleball courts will also be available only for singles play as a result of the new order, The Post reported. No competitive basketball games will be permitted. Dog parks and skate parks will remain closed, and groups of more than 10 people will be prohibited.
Not every Palm Beach County course will open on the 29th, The Post reported. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said all four county-run golf courses won’t be ready by then, but they are taking tee times.
The announcement was a huge boost for area golf course operators, who were enjoying a banner tourist season until COVID-19 closed the county’s courses March 26, The Post reported. “The biggest challenge is you went from clubs getting ‘season’ and ‘peak’ rates to absolutely nothing overnight, and they didn’t have a lot of time to plan for it,” said Geoff Lofstead, Executive Director of the South Florida PGA. “It’s been a challenge for all of them.
“This is certainly welcome news,” Lofstead added. “Most clubs have had time to refine their safety practices, not only for the employees, but their customers and members.”
Palm Beach Par-3, the first area course to announce its closure because of the virus, will re-open on April 30th at 7:15 a.m, The Post reported.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to be crazy busy or kind of quiet. That’s the million-dollar question,” said Tony Chateauvert, Palm Beach Par-3′s manager/head professional.
“How loud can it get when you only have 16 players teeing off every hour?” Chateauvert added. “I know people are excited to play golf again, especially with the great weather we have been having.”
Ending the closures was good timing for public courses and also some private ones that offer summer memberships that start on May 1, The Post noted.
The reopening of Palm Beach county’s recreational facilities was matched by similar announcements for Miami-Dade and Broward counties, representing relief for the only three counties in the state where golf courses have been closed. Those counties have also accounted for 60 percent of the state’s positive COVID-19 cases.
In the state of Washington, golf courses will be allowed to reopen on May 5th as long as course officials and golfers follow specific guidelines, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on April 27th, the Seattle Times reported.
“We are so excited,” said Troy Andrew, Executive Director of Washington Golf. “It’s great to be getting golf back.”
Inslee also outlined the partial reopening of other recreational activities, including hunting and fishing, when making the announcement, the Times reported.
“Outdoor recreation is one of the best things we can do to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being for Washingtonians during a time of great stress and isolation,” Inslee said. “And springtime in our state is Washington at its best, and people want to be out enjoying outdoor activities in a safe and responsible way.
“If we see a sharp uptake in the number of people who are getting sick or are not following appropriate steps, then we won’t hesitate to scale this back again,” Inslee stressed. “This is not a return to normal. This is only a beginning phase of relaxing outdoor recreation restrictions.”
The guidelines issued by the state include a limit of two people per group, instead of threesomes or foursomes, for each tee time. The only exception for where a foursome will be acceptable will be if all the people are from the same household.
Andrew said he hopes that guideline of twosomes only will be relaxed within a week or two after the reopening. “We were hoping for foursomes, because you can social distance by having separate carts,” he said. “Operationally, it’s just better for golf courses.
“On the document of the requirements, there’s a phrase at the top that says, ‘assessed weekly,’” Andrew added. “We pushed for that. It was going to be assessed every two to three weeks, but now it’s every week. I hope within a week or two we might be able to commence with foursomes [that are] not all from the same household.”
The return of golf to Michigan that has included a restriction on using motorized carts has led to creativity for how players are carrying their clubs, MLive.com reported.
At Eldorado Golf Course in Cadillac, Mich., MLive.com reported, General Manager Don Smith was caught off-guard over the weekend of April 25-26, when he saw a couple of players show up to play with their clubs loaded onto a shopping cart and a red wagon.
“Those were actual golfers that came out,” Smith said with a laugh. “One was guy pulling that red wagon. I was like, ‘Oh my God! I gotta get a picture of that. It wasn’t long after that I saw a gal with shopping cart.”
WestWynd Golf & Grille in Rochester, Mich. ran into the same kind of situation, posting pictures of some unusual golf cart concoctions on its Facebook page, MLive.com reported.
Two showed players using dollies to secure their clubs, and another had his clubs loaded into an ice chest with wheels. The Facebook post said yet another was using “a baseball roller bag” as a golf cart.
Eldorado GC, and also Bucks Run Golf Club in Mount Pleasant, Mich. haven’t been able to provide enough pull carts for players requesting them, MLive.com reported. And it’s been unclear whether they’re actually allowed to rent the pull carts, according to some frequently asked questions that were addressed by the governor’s office on April 27th.
The FAQ answers don’t specify whether prohibiting courses to rent riding carts also includes push carts, the operators said. The answer on carts simply reads: “Caddies, starters, and golf carts may not be provided, and clubhouses, pro shops, driving ranges, and miniature golf courses must remain closed.”
In the case of Eldorado GC, MLive.com reported, the course layout is one that most golfers prefer to travel in a riding cart—so much so, Smith says, that “any given year, I rent out less than 10 pull carts the whole year. We rarely get walkers out here. We’re not a super walkable course.”
And Bucks Run GC is in the same boat. Its layout sits on a 290-acre parcel of land and is so spread out that it’s a challenge to walk. So challenging, in fact, that the club doesn’t have any pull carts at all.
“We’re not a walking facility,” said General Manager Jon Conklin. “I don’t have any [walking carts] in stock. I looked at getting some a few weeks ago, but the entire nation is doing the same thing.”
Indeed, the demand for walking carts has been so high across the country that Smith said it might be July before companies can start accommodating requests, MLive.com reported.
Genesee Valley Meadows Golf Course in Swartz Creek, Mich. isn’t renting any pull carts, but is allowing players to bring their own, MLive.com reported.
Genesee Valley had about 100 players golfing on April 25th, according to General Manager Tom Shkreli, who said that was about the average for a typical weekend in April. But the number dropped to 60 players on April 26th on the second full day of operation.
“A lot of people don’t want to walk after they’ve done it once,” Shkreli said. “I think they just wanted to get out that first day so bad.”
The City of Livonia was allowing riding carts over the weekend on its three courses—Idyl Wild, Fox Creek and Whispering Willows—but that ended on April 27th after Gov. Whitmer’s FAQ update was published. MLive.com reported.
“We’re back to walking now,” said Tim Welsh, Livonia’s Director of Golf. “People are itching to get out. Even if we tell them there’s no carts, [they say] ‘OK, I’ll walk. I may not go 18, but I’ll walk nine.’”
Livonia will allow anyone who is disabled to rent a riding cart, which is permissible under Whitmer’s executive order. But players requesting a riding cart will have to show a handicapped license plate or some other proof of a disability.
Other courses aren’t providing carts to anyone, however, fearing it will cause problems when other golfers see somebody playing while riding, MLive.com report.
“I see that being a problem, personally,” Eldorado’s Smith said. “I think the perception of them being out there will be bad. The minute I let a cart out, handicapped or not, my phone is ringing off the hook.”
All of the courses contacted by MLive.com said business has been brisk since Whitmer reopened the golf courses “We had a great weekend,” said Kathy Wilson, whose family owns Gracewil Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I’m surprised that there’s that many players who are willing to walk. Nowadays, not as many people walk. [But] we’re thankful to be open and waiting for (Whitmer) to lift the order on the carts.”
Boca Woods Members Salute Front-Line Staff Heroes
Members of Boca Woods Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla. showed support for the club’s staff on Friday, April 24th with a golf cart parade past the clubhouse. Club staff watched and waved as members showed their appreciation with signs and decorated carts.
“I was overwhelmed to see the tremendous participation by our members arriving in golf carts and on bicycles with creative, endearing signs,” said Board Member Joanne Deutsch, who organized the event. “The idea was to take a moment to thank all of the dedicated essential workers who are keeping Boca Woods safe and functioning.
“It was great to see the staff also holding signs to the parading members that read ‘We miss you,’ ” said Deutsch, who then added this message to the club staff: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and we miss you, too!”
Back for Seconds
On April 28, Tyson Foodservice will join forces with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout for the second time and is committing to a donation of more than $25,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF). The company previously donated $25,000 to the RERF during the week of April 7.
“We believe there is still an urgent need to continue generating support for the foodservice industry and those affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Nanette Luningham, Vice-President of Channel Development for Tyson Foodservice. “We are doubling down on our commitment to help drive traffic to restaurants and provide monetary support to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund by partnering with The Great American Takeout.
“On April 28, National Superhero Day, we hope everyone in the nation will help us support the restaurant industry and recognize the everyday superheroes who have emerged during this crisis,” Luningham added.
Throughout the day, Tyson Foodservice will donate $5 for every social media post tagged with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout and #EverydayHero up to $25,000, to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The fund was created by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to support U.S. restaurant workers financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and to provide aid to restaurant employees nationwide.
Additionally, Tyson Foodservice will honor the #EverydayHero in select locations by delivering takeout to firefighters, healthcare professionals, grocery store employees and other essential workers and giving restaurant gift cards to several Tyson truck drivers and front-line employees.
For more information on how Tyson plans to extend its celebration of everyday heroes with other exciting promotions, visit tysonfoodservice.com/everyday-superhero.
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