WOUNDED by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the golf industry continues to battle on, albeit with some sectors doing better than others – but all have felt the impact one way or another.
This week TeeUp spoke to Gamuda Land club operations and townships director Tang Meng Loon, under whose umbrella Kota Permai Golf & Country falls, about the state of the local game.
Sharing his thoughts, he said as far as they were concerned it was “a little quiet as a lot of our club facilities are closed in accordance with the SOP circulated by MKN”.
He added that the upkeep and maintenance of the facilities and golf course remained uninterrupted because it was imperative that “our assets do not fall into disrepair and are in good working order for play the moment the CMCO (conditional Control Movement Order) is lifted.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: What has the mood been like among the staff and members?
A: Everyone’s keeping a positive mindset as they recognise the need for the CMCO, with safety and well-being a top priority in all daily activities. Everyone understands that the faster the curve is flattened, the faster everyone can resume their daily routines/lives. Our members are also grateful that the course remains open. Members and staff are happy to adhere to operational SOPs, practice personal hygiene and maintain physical distancing.
Q: Maintenance always includes, not only repairing but also improving the state of the course, has this been the case?
A: Our course has always been maintained in top notch condition. Maintaining the greens’ consistency and speeds are always our priority to ensure that golfers enjoy the experience. Some drainage improvements have been undertaken by installing subsoil drainage, bunkers have also been improved and general landscape enhancements have been carried out.
Q: You’re adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid down by the various administrative authorities, but share with us precisely how you have been going about this?
A: Our golf operations run as usual. The only main restrictions are that no corporate or in-house tournaments are allowed. A single buggy per player rule is also applicable to all golfers. We have been carrying out daily disinfection and sanitisation on our entire property, especially focused on frequently touched surfaces. Our monthly Covid-19 mass screening for all front-liners including caddies, golf course workers and cleaners remains in place. The health, safety and well-being of our workforce, members and guests is our main concern and is our highest priority.
Q: Might this also include only allowing members onto the property, thereby temporarily suspending the admission of guests and visitors, and other such measures?
A: We are only accepting bookings from members during CMCO, bookings from visitors are not permitted. However, members wishing to bring guests in can do so, but these guests must be signed in and their health vouched for by the respective members. The reason for this move is largely to allay any concerns members may have on patronage by providing them the choice on who has access to the club during this period.
Q: In your view, what can clubs do to try and keep their heads above water in these tough times, the sort of procedures or policies they could implement that might help the situation?
A: At this point in time, the best procedures and policies are ones that comply with those laid out by the authorities. Anything additional to those are ones that could boost safety and security, and provide patrons with a worry-free experience. That’s essentially what everyone is looking for right now – the assurance that the places they visit are being strict about safety and sanitisation.
Q: What sort of impact has the general restrictions (like one golfer, one buggy) and the cancellation of tournaments had on the club?
A: General restrictions haven’t had much of an impact, but cancellation of tournaments and banquet events has seen a drop in revenue. But these are things we have prepared for since the MCO was first implemented back in March. Hopefully things bounce back to normal as quickly as they can next year.
Q: And about the (impact on the) golf industry as a whole?
A: The entire industry is feeling the impact of restrictions. Tournament organisers and golf tour operators are probably the ones who are feeling the biggest impact, followed by golf clubs, retailers and others. Even professional tours have had their schedules suspended for the year. The impact is unavoidable under the circumstances but how we bounce back once restrictions are eased up, that’s what everyone needs to plan for.