‘Smaller events could be handled’

  • Golf
  • Sunday, 17 May 2020

A couple of golfers and caddie, nicely distanced on a green at Seri Selangor Golf Club in Petaling Jaya this week. — AZHAR MAHFOF/ The Star

AS more golf clubs reopen in the wake of the partial lifting of movement control order restrictions, a gentle sense of relief has swept over the industry.

However, there appears to be no sight yet of the return of tournaments and events, the bread and butter of many a golf course.

Indeed, all the organisers of some of the biggest and most popular annual tournaments on the local amateur circuit told TeeUp this week that they were anxiously waiting for the cue from government.

At the start of the movement control order in mid-March, all golf tournaments and events, as with other sports disciplines, were put on hold until further notice – until they got the go-ahead from the authorities and essentially until the Covid-19 pandemic was beaten.

As things stand, the coronavirus outbreak remains a global threat, but some measures have been relaxed as the restrictions put in place to curb its spread take hold.

There is a school of thought out there that reckons tournaments – small ones – can still be played in the current conditions.

“These would have to be maybe 40 to 50 players, ” said an organiser of several annual corporate events, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And of course, they would have to follow the standard operating procedures as laid down by the CMCO.

“Some of the key difference in events like these, compared a few months ago, would be that group photos, two-on-a-buggy and close-knit fellowships after the game become a thing of the past.

“But it could be done and I say this because as we speak some golf clubs are hosting up to 60-70 golfers a day, ” he added.

The Astro Masters, Carlsberg Classic, MercedesTrophy and World Amateur Golf Championships (WAGC), among the four leading annual tournaments with some of the best following, are all awaiting a directive from the relevant authorities to initiate their next move. In a statement, Astro told TeeUp: “The planning for the tournament has been on the table for some time now. But we can only finalise things and make an announcement once we get clear direction on post-CMCO (conditional movement control order) procedures.”

This would be the 23rd edition of the Astro Masters, which held its grand final in Taiwan last year.

Similarly, a statement from Carlsberg indicated that they too were awaiting clarification on when and how things will be adapted to once tournaments are allowed to resume again.

The Carlsberg Golf Classic, which celebrated its silver jubilee in 2018, last year offered more than RM2.6mil in sponsorship value and made no fewer than

37 stops at golf clubs across the nation, including Sabah and Sarawak.

The 2020 MercedesTrophy, which is highlighted by a world final in Stuttgart, Germany each September, was launched in February but also cut short by the pandemic.

The company’s website (mercedes-benz.com.my) dictates that the “MercedesTrophy 2020 is postponed until further notice” following the announcement of the activation of the movement control order.

This event is an exclusive tournament for Mercedes-Benz owners and each year features more than 60,000 players from more than 60 countries worldwide. The winners of the local qualifying series are rewarded with slots in the regional final in Australia and from there a trip to Germany for the world final.

The WAGC said they would be rescheduling their calendar with a view to focusing on their world final in Mexico next January.

The event was launched in Kuala Lumpur early March and had its world final set for the third week in October – that was before the onset of Covid-19.

Now, the national final has been earmarked for December, with the world final in Mexico a month later.

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