7 learnings for reopening courses

David Shepherd Lessons

Golf courses can expect “huge demand” as they reopen following lockdown.

That’s the experience of one club in Denmark, whose CEO has warned courses to be prepared for “panic booking” of tee times when they reopen.

Here, David Shepherd of The Scandinavian shares his 7 key learnings from his club’s reopening in April:

1. “Demand for golf will be massive upon reopening. Even with play restricted to members and two- balls only, we have been fully booked on both courses from 08:00-18:00 for the first 10 days, with more than 1,800 rounds played.”

2. “Plan for the surge in demand and for members hoarding tee times. Restrict tee times from the start; it’s much easier than doing it later. Also, expect members to behave differently. Even normally kind and courteous members can react differently in this strange period.”

3. “Golfer pressure to play will be massive and members will find every argument to tell you why golf is safe. Golf will be likened to other essential activities like grocery shopping. You will hear golfers say things like, “I’m in more danger when I go to the supermarket”. It’s worth reminding members that they must go to the supermarket to eat and live; golf is a hobby. Be patient!”

4. “Members will all want to help when you might not want or need it. “Have you thought about putting the flag back? Have you seen what  X and Y club is doing? Have you considered opening the range?”  Of course, you have thought about it! Like me, you have probably not stopped thinking about it for months. But, be kind they are only trying to help.”
5. “Golfers will generally not consider staff in their explanations of why golf is safe. It’s vital to remember that when golfers are only considering themselves, the manager must do the right thing for the team members.”

6. “Nothing is ever quite enough. When the opening process is phased, which it probably will be, members are delighted for a couple of days, but immediately begin asking what’s next. “When can we go back to 4-balls? When can the flag come back? When can I use a buggy?” Plan the phases and talk to members about what is likely to come next and when it will be reviewed.”  

7. “Decision making needs to be rapid and efficient. If the club is normally a little slow then I would suggest that the normal 12-person committee is not involved in this process. Maybe two board members and the manager take the lead. Emergency online board meetings in the evening with 12 committee members trying to work out how to use Zoom is probably not the most efficient way.”

Has your golf venue already reopened? Share your insights and learnings with Syngenta Golf (golf.syngenta@syngenta.com)