Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Golfers Need to Mind the Curve to Keep Courses Open

While thousands of golf courses began to reopen in late April and early May, we’re not at the finish line yet. We are much closer to the start.

I coached my son’s third-grade basketball team this winter. I was so proud of the effort and dedication that he and his friends/teammates showed. While only three of the boys had played competitive basketball before—and many more had never even dribbled a ball prior to our first practice—they gave me everything they had, each and every game. You couldn’t tell if we were up 10 or down 20 (and we were down 20 more than once).

Why do I lead off with youth basketball for a publication that focuses on the world of clubs and resorts? To stress the amount of effort we’re going to need to keep our golf courses open for play.

Rob Thomas
While thousands of golf courses began to reopen in late April and early May, we’re not at the finish line yet. We are much closer to the start. If we let our guards down now, we could very easily find ourselves watching state and local leaders close our fairways again.

It took extraordinary measures to flatten the curve enough to get to this point. As schools closed and our kids were introduced to remote learning, clubs were taking massive hits to the bottom line by being forced to cancel banquets, tournaments and virtually all member activities and services.

There’s no telling when food and beverage and other parts of a full club operation will return to normal—or, if in fact, we are living in the new normal. Until clubs are able to welcome back in-house diners, event guests and users of fitness centers, pools and other facilities, filling the tee sheet is more important than ever. And those tee sheets aren’t as full as they can be, as some courses have been forced to limit groups to twosomes, and tee times have been spread from every 8 minutes to 12, 15 and even 20 minutes.

We’re all in this together and we need to work as a collective unit to make this work. I’ve grown accustomed to the post-round handshake and really enjoy having a drink at the 19th hole with my playing partners. And I’m looking forward to the next outing that I can play in. All of that will have to wait, however.

Today, I’m more than happy to smile, wave and exchange pleasantries in the parking lot as we leave the course, and I have no problem “raking” a bunker with my foot. And I actually prefer making a tee time online and paying in advance.

We’ve come this far, but if we’re not careful, our sport may be taken away again, and we’ll be right back where we were in February, March and much of April.

Enjoy the golf course and let’s not take this for granted. It’s better to have something, rather than nothing, and it’s better to be six feet apart than six feet under.

Stay safe and play well.

This article originally appeared on Club + Resort Business.

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