The organisations involved in running and maintaining golf clubs - BIGGA, the PGA and GCMA - have issued advice on how to deal with the public health emergency. Here's what you need to know.
Guidelines on how to cope with coronavirus have been issued by the three bodies whose members run and maintain golf clubs.
The British and International Golf Greenkeeping Association (BIGGA), the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) and the Golf Club Managers' Association (GCMA), supported by the R&A, have collaborated on guidelines offering advice to clubs "in the possible absence of key staff, planning for the longer term effects to the business and the importance of communication to staff and to members".
With estimates that 25 per cent of small businesses don't reopen after a serious emergency, the associations have urged clubs to "plan ahead and put procedures into operation and give your organisation every chance of securing the facility for golfers to enjoy for years to come".
The guidance states that clubs are close communities and highly-skilled working environments. It adds that without those staff "the entire operation would grind to a halt".
Looking at the prospect of self-isolation as the best way to contain the spread of the virus, it adds: "If that happens at a golf facility, the club could find itself without its entire greenkeeping, catering and/or clubhouse staff for an extended period and its long-term security could be placed at risk."
Offering advice to clubs about what they can do, the associations recommend a number of measures.
Plan ahead: Before anything happens, make it a priority to put together a plan of action. Draw up a list of what could go wrong in your business if you believe a member of staff has been exposed to the virus.
The guidance adds: If you've anticipated a problem and you have a plan in place, you'll be better prepared to deal with it.
Bring together a senior staff group: Your golf facility needs to have a senior group of managers who are in constant contact and can spring in to action if something happens. This should be your club manager/secretary, course manager/head greenkeeper, PGA professional, and any other relevant department heads. During a period of heightened risk, meet on a daily basis and provide an update on staff absence, business pressures such as stock levels or machinery maintenance, and other matters.
Draw up a comprehensive risk register across facilities: Draw up a list of risks stemming from a potential case of Covid-19 in your business or immediate vicinity that could have a negative impact on the business.
The risk register should:
- Identify risk
- Evaluate the severity of any identified risk
- Apply possible solutions
- Monitor and analyse the effectiveness of any steps you take to reduce the risk
Unlike the overall Disaster Management Plan, the Risk Register is a more specific document aimed at identifying potential risks and detailing what steps you have taken to prevent them. At a golf facility, examples of risks could be:
- Loss of revenue due to reduced green fees
- Drop in membership levels due to forced closure of the club
- Damage to the golf course due to reduced maintenance
- Disruption with suppy chains
- Staff not being paid
Upskill the team on alternative key roles and tasks: Identify the highest-priority tasks, such as mowing greens, taking bookings, payroll and housekeeping. Enlist staff from various departments who may be able to fulfil additional responsibilities. You'll need a wide spread of staff in case a specific department is quarantined.
Upskill a team of volunteers in case the above team also goes down: In the event that the entire staff is unable to work, a small group of volunteers may be able to complete the most basic tasks that will allow the facility to remain open.
Identify who these volunteers are and then provide the relevant training, including details of Personal Protective Equipment. Provide supplementary information to allow them to refresh their memory.
Make them aware that they should only attempt tasks that they feel comfortable completing and that they should never work alone.
Before enlisting the help of volunteers, make sure your facility has the correct level of employer or public liability insurance in place.
Ask volunteers to sign an agreement that will explain:
- Level of supervision and support they will get
- What training they will get
- Information regarding the golf facility's employer or public liability insurance
- Health and safety issues
- Any expenses the organisation will cover.
Buddy up with another club: Engage in a dialogue with the other golf clubs in your immediate area and discuss an action plan. If one of your clubs is forced to close, is there a reciprocal arrangement in place to allow members to play at a different facility? Alternatively, and where the risk of infection is minimal, will the other clubs be able to lend resources and staff who can complete the basic tasks that enable the affected golf club to remain open?
Engage in a dialogue with the other golf clubs in your immediate area and discuss an action plan. If one of your clubs is forced to close, is there a reciprocal arrangement in place to allow members to play at a different facility?
Alternatively, and where the risk of infection is minimal, will the other clubs be able to lend resources and staff who can complete the basic tasks that enable the affected golf club to remain open?
Helping each other out during this difficult period will strengthen bonds between golf clubs and provide positive publicity for the wider industry.
Share all risk issues and solutions: Communication is key and you'll need to keep your customers informed that the golf facility is operating on a reduced level. Be honest and don't hide anything as customers will appreciate being kept informed and it will reduce the spread of rumours.
At all levels, the golf industry is a community and so if you find yourself encountering a problem or have devised a way to overcome the challenge faced, then it's important to keep talking to each other.
Each of the major golf bodies have communications channels that can be accessed, including social media. Why not talk about the practices you've put in place, share a template for a risk register that you've put together, shout about how you're helping another club out? The information you share may provide the answer to a problem that another facility is struggling to overcome.
You can find all the information, as well as a downloadable PDF with all the guidance, on the BIGGA website.