As golf clubs reopen, be on the lookout for unwelcome visitors

It’s golf, but not quite as we know it

It’s official – golf clubs in England have been given the go ahead to re-open. The opportunity to stride down those green and pleasant fairways is a huge relief to many in lockdown, and it looks like golf is about to experience a new hey-day as numbers flock to the course.

The opportunity to shake off cabin fever has seen many courses fully booked for tee-times over the first couple of weeks. With golf being the first sport to be given permission to open their gates, it’s likely that you’ll receive a few opportunists looking to benefit from the opportunity.

Given that clubs aren’t allowed to open their bars, restaurants, pro-shops or accommodation, revenues are already massively hit, and surviving this will be a challenge for every club; big or small.

The one thing you can do is to protect your green fees and the quality of your course is to ensure that only those who have paid to play are doing so. As well as meeting social distancing measures and COVID-19 requirements at the same time.

  1. Take online bookings only – no turn up and play

This gives you control of who is booking tee-times and if they’re not a member then they pay over the phone. As well as protecting your revenue and giving you sight of where your gaps in tee times are so you can more easily spot interlopers, it reduces social interaction and stops unnecessary contact.

  • If you don’t already have Course Marshals, get some
Golf Club Marshal Armband
Golf Marshal Armbands are an effective way to warn off opportunists

Most large clubs will already have course ‘gate keepers’ wearing Golf Marshal Armbands to check members’ details, make sure people start on time and keep things moving smoothly.

Ensuring people stay at least 2 metres apart, tees remain uncrowded and golfers leave immediately after they finish their round will now also become part of their duties.

If your budgets don’t stretch to Marshals, in the current situation, there are likely to be a number of members or helpers that are happy to volunteer and give a few hours of their time simply to be active and have a change of scenery. Ask them!

Do make sure they are clearly identifiable as Marshals with Golf Marshal Armbands. As well as the obvious first tee, position them around the points on the course where you know it’s easy for people to sneak on. Their sheer visibility should be enough to put opportunists off.

Our Golf Marshal Armbands come with a pack of fluorescent name cards that allow you to change the badge when it suits, giving more value. Names include Golf Marshal, Marshal, Official and Starter.

  • Make sure your members’ golf bag tags are clearly recognisable too

Are your golf bag tags visible enough? You need for these to be recognisable from a distance, both to help with spotting those who lack them, and to prevent the need for human contact. If a Marshal can see a member clearly without having to approach them to look at their tag, that’s one less social interaction that needs to take place.

Bright colours, patterns and a large size are all a good idea on golf bag tags.

We all need to get used to the idea of change

The game of golf may have returned, but it won’t be golf as we know it for quite some time. We all have to get used to ‘new etiquette’ of not touching the pin, putting with the flag in and getting preferred lies when you’re in the bunker.

Hopefully golf clubs will survive this new normal, and in time, the game will thrive but clubs face many economic challenges between now and then. In the meantime, look after the revenue that you do have.