Golf has been one of the few activities that the majority of states and communities have allowed to continue during the COVID-19 lockdown of the country. Many areas of the country have seen an uptick in rounds and individuals getting into the game or dusting off their clubs.

Golf has been one of the few activities that the majority of states and communities have allowed to continue during the COVID-19 lockdown of the country. Many areas of the country have seen an uptick in rounds and individuals getting into the game or dusting off their clubs.  

Like any business, golf courses have had to take a look at how they conduct business to make sure every reasonable safety precautions are taken, along with balancing the financial situation of the business. The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association have been very proactive in developing best practices for courses to institute. Similar to the states re-opening phases the PGA of America has also developed their three phase re-opening guidelines for course operators.

The vast majority of courses have implemented safety precautions to allow for customers and associates to feel comfortable working and utilizing the golf facilities. Some of these guidelines may become the norm in certain parts of the country as we move forward with business and life. 

If you have played golf in the last several months you may have noticed ball washers, rakes, and in rare occasions, flagsticks have been removed from courses. Most courses have left flagsticks but have devised a cleaver way to help players retrieve their ball — by putting small pieces of pool noodles into the holes. In other instances they have turned their cup liners upside down, again elevating the ball closer to the top of the hole for easy retrieval. I have even scene a device installed on the flagstick that can be operated by lifting the device with your putter head thus lifting the ball out of the hole for you.  

Single rider carts have become the norm for social distancing, but will have to ease for course operators to continue operating effectively. Courses were instructed early on to only have one player per cart, but as states have begun their re-opening plans this will begin to phase out. The main reason for this, once it is deemed safe to ride in the same cart, is courses have a finite number of carts and for a typical 18-hole facility that is approximately 72 carts. This accommodates a full field of 144 players. Having all individuals take their own cart cuts the availability of inventory for the course to sell by half, making it an unsustainable model for the long term.  

Other areas of the operation have also been affected as on-course restrooms have been closed and water stations have not been available. These restrictions should ease as we move forward.  

Clubhouses, and food and beverage operations have been impacted. I’m sure table and bar seating will be spread out or limited for several more months. Cleaning practices and sanitizing of high-touch areas will continue to be an area of importance. The sanitizing of golf carts has drastically improved and this is an area that will continue long after this pandemic is behind us.    

Golf events have also been impacted. Corporate events, charity tournaments and member activities have been cancelled or postponed. Once restrictions ease these events will be back and will probably get some new energy as everyone will be ready to compete. As gathering rules continue to be lifted your 100 or more golf events will be back on the schedule. Golf courses, like any business, need these types of revenue streams to make the bottom line work for their clubs. 

One of golf’s most treasured traditions, the handshake, may be a thing of the past for years to come. Golf has always and will continue to be a game of gentlemen and ladies. It was always the tradition at the end of the round to remove your hat and shake your playing partner’s hand. This customary practice will most likely be modified to a tip of the cap, fist or elbow bump, or any other socially-acceptable practice. It could be fun and exciting to see what players come up with. You never know, years from now the handshake may go the way of the curtsey.  

Golf instruction has also taken on a new look during this time. In-person lessons are still being given but social distancing practices have changed the game. Instructors have to think about how they interact with their clients. It was customary to grab their club, maybe touch the student to move the club into certain positions, and generally stand fairly close to them.  Video has become the tool of choice for a lot students and instructors. If students don’t feel comfortable coming to the course, they can take videos of their swing and forward them to their teacher. Notes can be shared back and forth, and virtual teaching can be accomplished from a very safe distance.  

It is everyone’s responsibility to be diligent and safe in all aspects of your daily lives now and forever. This holds true as we enjoy the golf courses as well. Bring your own protective equipment, sanitizing products, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and you should be able to enjoy this great game for a very long time. Course operators will continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure everyone that is enjoying and working at their facilities feels comfortable and safe.  

See you on the course!