From Maine to New Mexico, many clubs are experiencing a robust May, to help make up for a lost April. Also in today’s report: Play is so heavy in the U.K., one owner foresees a repeat of the 1960s, with courses forced to close periodically to let greenkeepers keep up with needed maintenance; Gaylord Texan Resort reopens; online workshops offer strategies on reopening golf and racquet programs; the difference between respirators and surgical masks; and Beacon Hill CC and KemperSports add to the industry’s charitable efforts.
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@example.com.
All of C+RB’s daily updates on the coronavirus situation can be found at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/covid-19/.
May Provides Welcome Boom
—May rounds reports are showing quick comebacks for many clubs across the country—from Maine to New Mexico.
After losing the month of April to the coronavirus, courses in Maine have seen business meet—and exceed—their expectations in May, with day after day full of tee times from early morning into the late afternoon, the Kennebec Journal reported.
“It’s pretty much been full tee sheets every day,” said Lucas Worrell, Director of Golf at The Meadows Golf Club in Litchfield. “We’re definitely seeing way more rounds than in any year previous. I asked Randall [Anderson], the owner, how far ahead do you think we are, business-wise? And he said we’re basically blowing last year and previous years out of the water.”
Waterville Country Club, Head Professional Don Roberts said, just passed 3,000 rounds played in May on Memorial Day, the Journal reported.
“Usually in May we’re in the low-to-mid 2,000s. Twenty-three, 24, 25 hundred,” Roberts said. “It might be a record May for rounds. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be.”
Even with coronavirus restrictions in place and tee times spaced out, golfers have been eager to grab whatever time they can, the Journal reported. Dick Browne, Head Professional at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, Maine, said it wasn’t a given that business would bounce back after the restrictions were lifted on May 1.
“We were not sure. It was a little bit of a guessing game,” he said. “We were hopeful that people were going to come out and support us because we were feeling that they were looking to do something outside. … I think people feel it’s a very safe activity, but they’re cautious. They’re doing what they’ve got to do.”
Browne said the work that was put in at Natanis and other courses in the area during the suspension has helped keep those numbers up, the Journal reported. Course superintendents and greenskeepers made sure to use the milder-than-usual April to make sure the grounds were in good shape for when the sport could return, and the turnout suggests the players have noticed.
“The course is in excellent shape, and that always helps,” Browne said. “The word of mouth on that gets out too. If your course is in bad shape, they don’t come out as much. They’re paying money, they expect a decent product.”
—In Cleveland, Ohio, golf courses have found themselves adjusting to the social distancing era and now they are looking to take advantage as the weather starts to break, WEWS reported. While the measures may seem like a headache, one change that has actually benefited a golfer’s game is one golfer to a cart that has picked up pace of play, which leaves less room for chit-chat in between shots.
Despite a cool and wet spring, people were anxious to tee up this season, WEWS reported.
“It really drove people to want to be out of the house in temperatures, golf wise, that typically they may not play in,” said Jimmy Hanlin, of Little Mountain Golf Club in Painesville, Ohio. “They may wait a little further into the year. So the demand for golf and people wanting to be out there was there I would say much earlier than what we would typically see in bad weather.”
The holiday weekend brought out the crowds, WEWS reported. At Stonewater Golf Club in Highland Heights, Ohio and Little Mountain, there were roughly 180 players a day, which is pretty much sold out. Across the Metroparks—comprised of eight courses across Cuyahoga County—more than 3,000 rounds were played over the weekend.
—Golf courses across Albuquerque, N.M. have been open for weeks now. With entertainment options limited, they’re so busy, players have to book a tee time a week in advance and Memorial Day was no exception, KRQE reported. The staff at Los Altos Golf Course said they’re now busy every day, rather than just weekends.
“Traffic’s picked up. I mean we’re about as busy as we can be. Basically, tee times fill up from sunrise to sundown almost. We get a few no shows here and there, but we’re only allowed to basically do half the amount of rounds as we would in a typical day,” said Colby Reddoch, the Director of Golf at Los Altos.
He told KRQE the course has seen a steady flow of traffic every day since reopening May 2. Reddock said they’re averaging between 200 to 225 rounds a day and are busier in the afternoons and weekdays than usual.
Because of the current restrictions, they have to spread tee times out to avoid having more than 80 people on the course at a time, KRQE reported. Even with all the new rules, people are just thrilled to be playing again.
The city’s four courses used to work on a first-come-first-serve basis during the week, but they don’t want walk-ups waiting around in groups, so tee times are a must, KRQE reported. Reddoch said if golfers try and book a tee time any less than five days before they want to golf, they likely won’t have any luck unless there are cancellations.
Golf in U.K. Better than OK
—With golf courses in England now back open for business, thousands of golfers across the country are taking full advantage of the weather and the opportunity to once again enjoy a round of golf, but it seems courses are so busy that some clubs can’t keep up with the maintenance work, GolfMagix reported. Many clubs have furloughed a large number of their employees including greenkeepers and although many of them will now be back to work, there is still a number of golf clubs running with limited staff.
Tee times are being booked weeks in advance as golfers can now play with someone from outside their household, GolfMagix reported.
Neil Sjoberg, owner of Epping Golf Course in Essex, has spoken to numerous other golf clubs in the East Anglia area, who have all stated that they are struggling to keep up with the on-course maintenance due to being so busy all day, every day, GolfMagix reported. So busy in fact, that Sjoberg believes the country could see a repeat of the 1960s where courses could be forced to close for a number of days in order for the greenkeepers to treat the course.
“All the venues have reported a surge in membership—mostly at least 50 new members. One of the reasons for the membership rush is that most clubs charge pro rata fees and, as we are well into the season, new members get what they crave: summer months-only membership at a reduced price,” Sjoberg said. The test will be to see if they renew next year.
“Although all the golf clubs tend to be in a better than average condition because of the lack of use—no divots, no pitch marks and the tees are unworn—the reduced greenstaff has made daily maintenance since opening a difficult task.
“The greatly increased traffic has meant that many are finding tee areas quickly worn and are having to introduce tee mats which are normally only used in muddy, winter conditions, Sjoberg continued. “Some clubs are not allowing golf until 9am now, to give greenkeepers time to prepare the course.”
Gaylord Texan Reopening
—Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, which was home to the 2020 CMAA World Conference and Business Expo in February, will reopen its doors June 8—some 10 weeks after the global coronavirus pandemic decimated the tourism and events business, The Dallas Morning News reported. The hotel, which closed March 25, has reopened its online reservation system in hopes that the summer will bring back a slice of the previously robust leisure travel business from Texans who live close by. Reservations will remain flexible for customers who need to cancel or switch dates at the last minute.
One of the Grapevine, Texas resort’s biggest summer draws is its 10-acre outdoor pool complex, which features a 6,000-sq.-ft. lagoon, a water playhouse and a 600-ft.-long lazy river, The Morning News reported. While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t yet cleared water and theme parks to reopen, the Texan said its amenities are part of the resort and not a waterpark. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence COVID-19 can spread in water play areas, such as pools. And proper sanitation practices—such as the use of chlorine and bromine—should inactivate the virus in the water, the CDC said.
Gaylord Texan, which is managed by Marriott, is launching a Commitment to Clean initiative with better cleaning technology and hospital-grade disinfectants, The Morning News reported. It will have attendants dedicated to sanitizing daily and will have hundreds of new cleaning processes.
The resort also will implement social distancing protocols, including spaced seating. Customers also have the option of renting a private cabana with a TV, refrigerator and pool servers, The Morning News reported. The resort said its large atrium allows for distancing during activities such as scavenger hunts, canvas painting and wellness programs.
Martha Neibling, the Texan’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, declined to discuss the virus’s impact on the Grapevine resort or how many employees will return to work June 8, The Morning News reported. Last year, the resort had 1,300 employees, according to its profile as part of The Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places to Work.
Webinars for Reopening Golf, Racquet Programs
—North Carolina-based golf player development program, Operation 36, announced an upcoming training and panel to help golf professionals “Re-Open Your Golf Programs.”
Operation 36, Co-founder, Ryan Dailey will be hosting the workshop to provide strategic, tactical support to golf professionals who are eager to resume coaching this season.
Dailey will be joined with four additional golf professionals who are successfully running programs amid restrictions and distancing, including Janean Murphy of Oakhurst Golf Club in Porter, Texas; Luke Donah of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club; Scott Erdmann of Oswego Lake (Ore.) Country Club; and Derek Hooper of Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. These coaches will share their experience and expertise as they have navigated this new coaching environment.
“Our goal with this training is to share with other golf professionals the opportunities available, even with restrictions,” Dailey said. “We understand that many coaches rely on coaching revenue to provide for their families, and we want to help them recoup the loss of income from this spring, and to stop any future loss of revenue while providing a safe and supportive coaching environment.”
The workshop will be hosted online, May 28 at 8 p.m. EST. It is designed to provide strategies that will be useful to all golf professionals, even those not in the Operation 36 program.
Space is limited to 100 guests, and sign-up is available through this LINK.
—The National Club Association is hosting a free “Reopening Racquet Sports at Private Clubs” webinar May 28 at 11:30 a.m. EST. The webinar will cover the best practices for operating racquet sports at private clubs, such as considerations in prepping courts, ball and equipment sanitation, social distancing protocols, and specific CDC and USTA guidance on safety issues as they relate to racquet sports, as well as guidance on limiting capacity, managing flow, new member rules and other issues on how to safely engage members on the courts.
Respirators vs. Surgical Masks
Alan E. Achatz of Club Safety Solutions shared a video explaining the differences between respirators and surgical masks. A surgical mask is not a respirator and that’s an important distinction for people to understand.
You have a right to a safe and healthful workplace, the post reads. Whenever respiratory protection is required to be worn to protect staff from hazardous airborne contaminants, the club is responsible for implementing a comprehensive respiratory protection program and providing employees with an appropriate respirator, in accordance with OSHAs respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134. This program must include training, medical evaluation and fit testing.
—Members and representatives of Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. visited the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad and presented volunteers there with masks, gloves, and food items as part of the club’s efforts to assist those who are giving so much of themselves, their time and talent to help others in northern Monmouth County during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Monmouth Journal reported.
Alexander Mueller, General Manager of Beacon Hill Country Club; Bill Mount, Squad Vice President; Richard White, Board Member at Beacon Hill Country Club; and Rich Glietz, Chief of the Squad, were all on hand during the presentation, The Journal reported. This is the fifth such donation the country club has made in the last month, visiting Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and first aid squads in Middletown and Leonardo.
—KemperSports, the Illinois PGA Foundation and FootJoy will partner with the VFW Department of Illinois to continue the Rain Suits for Responders program to serve more healthcare professionals in need. The program, which started in April, will now bring new or gently used men’s and women’s golf rain suits directly to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle in five VA Hospitals across Illinois, as well as veterans in need. Waterproof golf rain suits can serve as reusable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) by healthcare workers.
“The VFW Department of Illinois is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Rain Suits for Responders,” said Brad Gould, Commander, VFW Department of Illinois. “Being able to take part in an initiative to help Veterans Administration medical personnel on the frontlines who are taking care of veterans, service members, and dependents contributes to our mission and exemplifies the VFW motto, ‘No One Does More For Veterans.’”
The donation process is easy. A website has been established for donors to register their rain suit shipment and receive a free shipping label via e-mail. Once the rain suit is packaged, donors can schedule a pickup at their home or drop off their donation package at a local shipping facility. The Illinois PGA Foundation is committed to financially supporting the program by absorbing a portion of the shipping costs.
“The support and effort by our staff, Illinois PGA professionals and the golf community to send rain suits to healthcare professionals has been a bright spot during this time,” said Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperSports, a leading golf course management company based in Northbrook. “This program is a way for the golf community to make a positive impact on the lives of the healthcare heroes who are fighting COVID-19. We feel compelled to continue this work to bring necessary PPE resources to the healthcare professionals in VA hospitals and other veterans in need.”
If preferred, donors can make a charitable donation directly to the Rain Suits for Responders Fund. For every $100 that is donated, KemperSports and FootJoy will provide a brand-new rain suit to VFW Department of Illinois. Details for making a charitable donation can also be found at www.RainSuitsforResponders.com.
“The Illinois PGA Foundation is pleased to team up with KemperSports, FootJoy and the VFW Department of Illinois to continue its Rain Suits for Responders program. We’re proud to financially support the program and promote it to our more than 800 Illinois PGA Professionals who manage 300 golf facilities throughout the Chicagoland area as well as Northern and Central Illinois,” said Carrie Williams, Executive Director of the Illinois PGA Section and Illinois PGA Foundation.
PPE is used every day by healthcare personnel to help protect themselves, patients and others when providing care. PPE shortages are currently posing a tremendous challenge to the U.S. healthcare system because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare facilities are having difficulty accessing the needed PPE and are having to identify alternate ways to provide patient care.