Covid-19: Industry still holding on

  • Golf
  • Sunday, 16 Feb 2020

Marquees around Kota Permai’s 18th green are under construction, ahead of the event in the first week of next month.

THE Covid-19 coronavirus has taken its toll on a handful of tournaments in the region, but thankfully it has not impacted the local golf industry to that extent - not yet anyway.

Indeed, to say that the local industry has not been adversely affected would be a disservice to all.

The local game though, has generally been held intact, with only some booking “cancellations” reported at a few clubs.

The women’s LPGA Tour called off events in Thailand and Singapore over concerns of Covid-19, while the European Tour pulled the Hong Kong Open off its schedule for the same reasons.

Notwithstanding this, the Malaysian Open, set to make a return after a five-years absence, looks like it’s going ahead – to be staged at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Kota Kemuning, from March 5 to 8.

The Maybank Championship, scheduled for April 16 to 19 at Saujana Golf & Country in Subang, and the Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen from April 23 - 26, were called off by the European Tour yesterday.

The Malaysian Open is co-sanctioned by the Malaysian of Association (MGA) and the Japan Golf Tour, and preparations are well underway to staging it with the course said to be almost ready and construction of marquees around the 18th green nearing completion.

In a response to inquiries from TeeUp, the Asian Tour indicated that the US$1mil event would proceed as planned, unless unforeseen circumstances prevented it.

“The Asian Tour, together with the respective promoters of each tournament, has been closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation but at this stage, all of our events which are scheduled until March will proceed as planned, ” the Tour said in a communique.

“As the health situation continues to evolve, the Tour has put in place several precautionary measures based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines at tournaments.

“These include at least twice daily temperature checks, travel and health declarations for players, separate working areas for staff and officials at events, mandatory doctor on site and more frequent cleaning of common areas, ” concluded the Tour.

Gamuda Director of Club Operations & Townships Tang Meng Loon, under whose jurisdiction Kota Pemai falls, said they were also proceeding as planned and that things were shaping up rather nicely.

“The team has been gearing-up for months now in anticipation of the event and the course has been receiving more than the usual amount of attention from our maintenance crew to ensure it’s in perfect condition for the tournament, ” said Tang.

“As the host venue, we are confident that we will be able to provide everyone with a good experience.”

At the time of writing, we were still awaiting a response from the MGA on the matter.

Events scheduled for this weekend by the leading global Tours were going ahead as planned. These include the Asian Tour’s 2020 Qualifying School (1st Stage Section) at Lake View Resort & Golf Club in Thailand and the LPGA’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in South Australia. The US PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California where Tiger Woods is making a return to action, is also on.

Back on the home front, TPC Kuala Lumpur has not experienced too much disruption.

“We rely heavily on the domestic market for golfers so the impact for golf rounds at this stage has been minimal, ” Sime Darby Property Hospitality & Leisure chief executive officer Steven Thielke.

Palm Garden Golf Club assistant general manager Terence Lee said they felt it a bit.

“Yes, Covid-19 has had some impact on the course here, especially the foreign market.

“There has been a slow down and agents who handle the Korean and Japan markets have cancelled some bookings.

“On another note, the club has put in place preventive hygiene measures by installing more sanitizers than usual and issuing masks upon request.

“We also have daily checks for staff (temperature) when they report for work and other measures.

Tasik Puteri Golf & Country Club general manager Kevyn Lee said they too experienced cancellations.

“These were Korean cancellations, but other than that it’s been roughly the same, ” he said.

In another development, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf & Country Club general manager James Thevaras said: “There has been not much effect on our local patronage due to Covid-19 and the members are playing as usual. However it has impacted the foreign golfers especially the Korean market. As you are aware December, January and February are peak months for Korean golfers in Malaysia due to their winter season. And now the Korean agents have cancelled some bookings.

Saha Kamarudin, general manager of Poresia Country Club in Johor Baru said they did not register a “decrease” in the number rounds played but remained cautious.

“As such we have put up notices to create more awareness on hygiene and installed more santizsers, ” he added.

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