As golfers we’ve long known that the game lends itself to social distancing, sometimes more than we would like, and so it came as no real surprise when Prof. Sam McConkey said to the Irish Times last week that golf could be one of the earlier sports to come back on stream following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof. McConkey reiterated these comments this week in the Independent and while this represents some potentially good news for Irish golfers in a time when we’re starved of positive news stories, it will ultimately be up to Government and we have to wait and see what restrictions lift on May 5th and what the plan will look like for further restriction lifting after that date.
Of course, golf hasn’t stopped everywhere. It is still being played in Sweden, the Slovak Republic and Estonia while Denmark opened up golf courses again in recent weeks and Australia now permits golf to be played. If you believe social media accounts, it’s also still being played in various states in the USA and we can learn many lessons (both good and bad) from the various initiatives and procedures that these countries have in place for golf to continue at little risk.
What Irish golf will look like when we do get back to playing is anyone’s guess; at what level we will initially be able to get on the course again is also up for debate. Suffice to say that it will be a very different game to the one we left behind a few short weeks ago and there will need to be specific restrictions imposed to allow for social distancing.
With this in mind, one of Ireland’s leading golf course management & consulting companies, Carr Golf, have produced a fantastic framework for golf’s return entitled, “A Practical Guide to Golf During COVID-19”. It’s a concise, well thought-out and very realistic guide to what golf courses should be looking to implement when they get the green light.
YOU CAN READ THE DOCUMENT HERE but if you’re hoping to read about club competitions and dinners in the clubhouse after your round then you’re going to be disappointed. However, in terms of the practicalities of getting golf courses back open and getting people playing again, it is superb and something that will give hope to us all.
Marty Carr, CEO of Carr Golf commented; “Golf is opening up and getting played again in countries across the world. The game delivers obvious physical and mental health benefits, and like hundreds of thousands in Ireland, I love it.
“When it resumes here, our first priority is the safety of our customers and staff. We’re confident our robust operating model will provide a safe environment for golfers to enjoy a round with peace of mind. Our management and maintenance processes are under constant review and will evolve in line with government advice and direction.”
The practical guide, which has been disseminated among members of the various properties under the management of Carr Golf today covers a number of topics;
Ensuring Staff Safety – one of the key components is ensuring golf club staff can remain safe
Course Access – who is allowed to play
Booking & Arrival – how bookings can be made and how information can be used to curb the spread of Covid-19
Check-in & Pro Shop Protocol – policies around pro-shop entry, purchases & staff interaction
Clubhouse Facilities – a list of the facilities at the club which can be used and what restrictions are in place to ensure they can be used safely
First Tee & On Course Etiquette – introducing a ‘Social Distancing Marshall’, how many people can play, at what times and how to handle course restrictions such as flagsticks, rakes, holes etc.
Getting Home Safely – post-round policies to ensure you can leave the course & return home safely
With any luck this will mean an end to the home practice nets, putting in the living room and perhaps the video tips from seemingly everyone which have clogged social media feeds for the last few weeks! It was fun for a while but if golf courses can implement these procedures set out by Carr Golf then perhaps we can get back on the fairways sooner rather than later.