0 Covid-19 - how it's affecting our industry

As a former groundsman/greenkeeper myself, I can only imagine what you are all going through at this moment in time. The uncertainty in all sectors of our industry is unimaginable and something none of us would have ever envisaged happening in our lifetime. We are all being affected in some way or another.

Northenden Golf Club

Unfortunately, the situation is only going to get worse as the government look at bringing in more robust measures in the coming days. My hope, as an industry, is that we all must try and look after one another and offer support where we can. It's very important we keep in regular contact with friends, colleagues and loved ones and talk about our feelings and worries either over the phone, email or social media.

On Friday, I emailed some of our sports turf industry professionals in all sectors, to gain an oversite on their thoughts of Covid-19 at this present time.

CARL TONKS, HEAD GROUNDSMAN, RIPON RACECOURSE

How is Covid 19 affecting the way that you work?

Here at Ripon Racecourse, we have three members of staff that are highly vulnerable two office staff that are now working from home via email and phone. I'm the other member, and we have set a system of email, telephone and evening working for myself.

What are the major changes you've implemented?

The race season is abandoned until the end of April, but we are working to a best-case scenario of no racing until July. This may be either open or a behind closed doors aspect, but either way, we are prepared and ready to race once the call comes. Our issues for racing are the medical staff; taking them away from national usage is not an option.

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

I've scheduled a work plan for our full-time staff, but all non-essential works and casual staff have been halted for the time being.

Do you think there will be any long-term implications?

The directorate of the company has ensured an emergency fund for this kind of event, and we have implemented it with the ring-fencing of employees' wages. We are hoping to come through this with a healthy staff here to welcome clients back once the national emergency is over.


RICHIE STEPHENS, COURSE MANAGER, RINGWAY GOLF CLUB

How is Covid 19 affecting the way that you work?

We have an extended briefing most mornings. We are all working on our own now if we need to work together, we avoid close proximity to each other. We only allow one person to ride on a buggy. We have sanitiser for entering and exiting the building, and we now wear gloves at all times other than break. We are taking breaks on our own, and wedge open all internal doors. We are deep sanitising the kitchen every Friday.

What are the major changes you've implemented?

On the course, we have removed rakes and ball washers. We have upturned the cups for easy ball retrieval.

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

We have a ban on overtime so we will lose between 16 to 30 hours per week, but no one has had to take time off yet.

Have any staff been laid off?

No.

Do you think there will be any long-term implications?

We predict a significant loss in revenue so we must review everything we want to buy and may reduce total work hours. This may reduce practices/ treatments to greens tees, fairways and approaches which may lead to some dip in quality of this cutbacks persist. It may have a knock-on effect when it comes to vital machinery replacement placing more strain on an ageing fleet. We also may reduce hours or loose staff.


BEN KAY, HEAD GROUNDSMAN, CHORLEY FOOTBALL CLUB

How is Covid 19 affecting the way that you work?

Being full time and on my own, I've been fortunate I've not really had much contact with many others. Work has been pretty normal if I'm honest, no significant changes have been implemented; I've just gone about my business as usual.

What are the major changes you've implemented?

Unfortunately, on Tuesday all non-playing staff were told that we were going to be given our notice. Chorley FC are a national league club and depend on playing games to make up the majority of our income.

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

Obviously, no games mean no cash is coming in. Hence, I, along with five others, face the harsh reality of being unemployed at an extremely difficult time.

Do you think there will be any long-term implications?

The implications on the industry are going to be massive, will there be enough time for pitch renovations? Will clubs have the funds to have what's needed to be done? What will the mental state of the ground staff be?


CRAIG EARNSHAW, COURSE MANAGER, HARLEYFORD GOLF CLUB

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

We are working on a staggered shift start. As we have always worked in a close-knit team, it's hard if we have to work alone for long periods of time. All the greenkeepers are doing a great job but if this goes on for a long time who knows what social effects this will have on the staff.

What are the major changes you've implemented?

As well as social distancing and having a staggered team, we are seriously looking at costs whilst making sure the course is the best it can be.

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

Have any staff been laid off? No, we are standing by our staff. We were going to increase our team but had to put that on hold whilst we assess the situation. We are also training our clubhouse staff on the machines to use them on the course.

Do you think there will be any long-term implications?

The company's that act fast and look after their own will come through this and will come out of this stronger when it all calms down.


BIGGA have released this information on how to you prepare your golf course for lockdown. This offers some great advice if your staff are unable to work due to lockdown or coronavirus infection.

We urge you to follow advice from the government and Public Health England on how best to keep yourself and your families safe but most of all remember you are not alone. There are many organisations to turn to if you feel you are struggling including @samaritans #EveryMindMatters @mindcharity

TOGETHER WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS.

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