How Covid-19 May Effect the Golfing World
There is no subject more relevant in the world right now than that of Covid-19, and we are all part of the global effort to fight against the virus. Therefore we think it is important to look ahead and discuss how Covid-19 may affect where and how we play our golf in the future, so that we know what to expect and can be prepared for any changes that will need to be made to ensure everybody remains safe while playing.
There are numerous ways that Covid-19 will effect the world of golf, mostly involving our behaviour on the course and where people choose to travel for their annual golf tour. There will be numerous ways that Covid will change the way we conduct ourselves in and around our favourite courses, from pulling up in the car park to finishing on the 18th. For the purpose of the blog I have broken down things down into three different areas, The Clubhouse & Proshop, On the Course, Golf Travel. Many of the possible changes have been discussed at recent Q&As with course directors and a framework has been laid out by England Golf.
The Clubhouse & Proshop
There are likely to be significant changes when using the facilities at any golfing venue in the wake of the Covid pandemic. One likely change that is expected to be implemented is that only one member of any golfing group will be allowed to enter the clubhouse and sign a group in, with no cash being accepted as payment. Clubhouses including any bar area will most likely be closed until further notice with limited essential access to bathrooms. As we are aware of the importance of hand hygiene in stopping the transmission of the virus, then any guests that do enter the clubhouse should be expected to sanitize their hands before entering, with hand sanitizer that will be supplied by the venue.
There will also be significant changes in the way we enjoy a bite to eat from any onsite restaurant, it is likely that many venues keep their restaurants shut to those who want to sit and enjoy a meal after enjoying their round, although this could vary depending on the size of the eatery. It’s possible however that venues who offer food suitable for takeaway may offer a grab-and-go option if guests are hungry.
There are also likely to be changes to buggy rental, with a maximum of one golfer per buggy although there could be leniency around this depending on whether the individuals live together. It goes without saying that the cleaning process in place in clubhouses will change dramatically with any places that are touched being sanitized frequently
On the Course
Due to the nature of the wonderful game, implementing and maintaining sensible social distancing measures when out on the course may actually be quite easy. When playing we naturally enjoy wide spaces and are most of the time at least a shot or a hole ahead of the following group, while within groups the size of fairways and greens can easily accommodate a distance of 2m between players when taking shots. One measure likely to be put in place is the limiting of tee times, or at least longer gaps between groups as to avoid groups catching up with each other, while as mentioned earlier cart use may be restricted to 1 person per cart, although this could be relaxed if the players cohabit.
Further measures being put in place will be to remove rakes from the golf course, ball washers and drinking fountains to be covered and bins and benches to be removed or covered, all measures to avoid hand to hand transmission. Similar measures to reduce hand to hand transmission have already been seen on the green, with the pictured ball retrieval measure allowing players to pick up their ball without the need to insert the whole hand into the cup.
Other golfing facilities such as driving ranges and practice areas will need to be closed unless the venue can guarantee safe sanitizing practices, meanwhile further sanitising practices will be put in place with staff wearing the correct cleaning equipment and regularly cleaning any high risk surfaces. At the end of a round players will be expected to leave the venue immediately as to avoid any social gatherings around the clubhouse area.
Currently the entire golf travel industry is on pause, courses are closed, planes are grounded and nobody is travelling to play. As we look forward to how the UK and other European countries plan to ease their lockdown, it may be safe to assume that golf courses will be some of the first leisure facilities to re-open, with the open spaces making sensible social distancing easy to enforce. This is fantastic news for the industry as courses are being hit at what would normally be a busy time of year, and the opportunity to recoup some of those losses will be welcome. However, there will likely still be travel restrictions in place and it is likely that for a while courses will be members only, as it can be assumed that they will be travelling from somewhere quite local.
Looking further into the future, airlines are already predicting between 20-30% capacity on flights for the next few years, meaning that far fewer golfers will be travelling outside of their own country for their golfing holidays. When you combine this with the fact that Spain is one of Europe’s major golfing destination and one of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19 it’s safe to assume that many European countries will be seeing an increase in domestic holidays over the coming years. This is amazing news as it will give a much needed injection of money into the sector but will also encourage people to explore and play courses in their own country that they may not have thought about visiting before.
At GSW we are very excited for golfing venues to re-open and to see players back on the course, however with the continued closure of hotels and courses only welcoming members, it is unlikely that that our customers will be embarking on any golf tours until at least July. We are sure many of you are still yearning to take in a golfing holiday with your friends this year and if you are considering it, then we encourage you to book a tour for late summer or early autumn, so that you can enjoy the sport you love and give a much needed boost to the UK economy.