Golf management has also had an intense time, with new operating conditions and protocols being introduced at short notice - all to keep staff and customers safe from the spread of the virus. It is a fact that the virus is less contagious in outside areas, but it is still quite possible for transmission. Being fully aware of all the danger points is critical to good operating.
The golfing bodies, UK Golf Federation, R&A, PGA, BIGGA, GCMA and the regional home unions have been fairly unified and helpful during the Coronavirus crisis.
There have been some very interesting developments as the golf sector has adjusted to a two ball maximum rule (unless all players can prove they are from the same household, in which case they are permitted to play as a 3 or 4 ball - see the rules listed in this article). All operators are delighted with the new improved pace of play, with most rounds taking three hours or less. Golf buggies must not be shared (except between members of the same household).
On the first day of reopening we found at Basildon Golf Course that our buggies were not being booked, as the £22 fee - which was normally shared between two - was simply more than one person would like to pay, especially on top of a green fee. We quickly adjusted our pricing to reflect this new reality and priced for single occupancy, with 18 holes for one player costing just £15 and dual occupancy at the normal rate of £22, for those who can. A similar reduction for 9 holes was also made (see insets).
Basildon Golf Course - Coronavirus Rules
Whilst we are delighted to be able to play golf again, the Coronavirus is still very much with us and so we will be strictly adhering to the Government’s rules on social distancing and general safety. In essence, we will be discouraging any socialising at the golf club both before and after golf. This is contrary to our normal instincts and not ideal, but it will minimise the chance of the virus spreading. Your co-operation and help is greatly appreciated. Our decision to re-open is based on the Government’s advice and we are most grateful to the UK Golf Federation, who have been lobbying the government hard for a workable way in which to re-open our golf courses. The following section is taken directly from the Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy (page 27), published on Monday 11th May 2020.
SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household; continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance. People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.
So in order to golf safely, the following rules will apply:
1. Please book your time in the normal way and arrive at the course 10 minutes before you are due to start.
2. Golfers can only play in two balls unless all players are from the same household, then 3 & 4 balls are permitted – photographic proof may be required. Singles are also allowed, but cannot book.
3. You must not come to the golf course if you know you have got Coronavirus or suspect that you have come into contact with someone who has Coronavirus.
4. You must never get closer than 2m to any other person. The men’s and ladies’ toilets will be open, but only one person is allowed into the toilet area at any one time.
5. The clubhouse and changing rooms will remain closed.
6. We will be serving cold non-alcoholic drinks and chocolate only.
7. Please do not hold anybody else up on the course, as queuing could be problematic. If you lose your ball immediately wave any group behind through.
8. Golf buggies are allowed and can be booked via reception in the normal way, but only one person is allowed on each buggy, unless they can prove that they are from the same household.
9. Please do not touch the flagstick. The hole cups have been made deliberately shallow so that players need only touch the golf ball when retrieving it from the hole.
10. Please stand at least 2m apart at all times when waiting for other golfers to hit the shot. Care must be taken to park trolleys and golf bags at a greater distance to ensure that correct distancing is maintained. Please make certain that you fully understand and agree to the above rules before starting your round. If you have any questions, then please phone reception on (01268) 533532. Keep safe and enjoy your golf. Best regards Colin Jenkins PGA 11th May 2020
Clubhouse operation can now shut promptly at 7.30pm as there is now no need for golfers to be served with beer and refreshments after their round. It is likely that these regulations may well be relaxed in the coming weeks and months as we ease back into a slightly more normal world. It is vitally important that all golf operators maintain the Government’s rules on distancing and safety so that their staff and customers are not at risk at all from catching this deadly virus.
Although it runs against the grain for golfers to be discouraged from socialising, it is vitally important at this time. Any spike in the rates of infection could result in a full lockdown once again.
GolfPod and Teaching Area Use During the Coronavirus Crisis
Please help us support The Golf Foundation
In order to keep golfers and staff safe during the Coronavirus Crisis, the ball dispenser is not in use.
You may use your own golf balls, providing they are in good condition (rough and damaged golf balls damage the netting).
Please make a donation to The Golf Foundation (collection boxes in the clubhouse) and help to develop golf for younger generations.
Normal safety rules apply and please do not collect your balls from the net until other golfers have stopped practising and it is safe to proceed.
Use of the teaching area is available to all golfers, when not required for teaching and other purposes. A fee of £2 is payable for each session is payable at reception – all proceeds will be donated to The Golf Foundation.
Many thanks for your co-operation and anticipated generosity. Please give generously.
Further details on The Golf Foundation can be found on their website: www.golf-foundation.org
Use of Toilets in the Coronavirus Crisis
In order to keep our customers and staff safe during this crisis, we will be operating a policy of one person at a time being in the toilet area.
The main doors to both men’s and ladies’ toilets will be left open all day and please call out to check if anyone is inside before entering.
If you are queuing, then please do so at a 2m minimum distance from anyone else and leave plenty of room for those leaving the toilet area to exit.
It goes without saying that we need all customers to maintain exceptional hygiene standards.
Please wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and also take advantage of the hand sanitisers to ensure that your hands are virus free at all times.
Many thanks for your understanding.
Golf Buggies During Coronavirus
Due to the social distancing required of everyone during the Coronavirus crisis,
the following rates will apply until further notice.
18 holes single occupancy £15
18 holes dual* occupancy £22
9 holes single occupancy £10
9 holes dual* occupancy £16
All golf buggies must be returned to the clubhouse before 7.30pm.
Please book via reception: 01268 533532
Dual occupants must both be resident in the same household.
Photographic identity required.
The GolfPod at Basildon has been set aside for the benefit of the Golf Foundation. Social distancing has prevented the effective operation of the GolfPod on commercial grounds, as has the teaching area. The revenues maybe small, but the Golf Foundation has also suffered serious income reductions in recent months and the chance to encourage some additional support of this fine organisation has been happily met. It seems like a great way to stimulate interest in the future of young golfers and one we may continue with after the Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
The new rules for golf operation must seriously discourage socialising and mixing, which goes completely against the grain for most golf operators. Friendly and welcoming has been replaced with friendly but ‘please leave immediately after golf’ and ‘sorry we can’t help you with beer and food.’ This is having a devastating effect on those businesses with a highly developed food and drink offering. Getting this message across tactfully is vitally important and some of the new signage is displayed above - feel free to copy and lift any text you want, and please share any other versions of signage.
There are some golfers that are missing competitions, but on the whole most people are just glad to be able to play again. Normal three and four ball formats have had to change as there is still a reasonably strong chance of spreading the virus with too many people playing together in one group.
Best practice has been shared by golf operators especially those members of the UK Golf Federation, and this spirit of cooperation between these different golf businesses has been a real bonus that has come out of the Coronavirus Crisis. There will be many more hurdles and challenges to overcome over the summer and the autumn, which will be discussed in future issues of Golf Features.