From President Joe Beditz’s letter explaining the effort:
To begin with, over the course of this past week NGF conducted a telephone poll of just over 1,000 golf courses nationwide to objectively assess the impact of the coronavirus on golf course operations. We’ll continue to poll courses in the weeks ahead so we can track these effects and as we more fully turn our attention to studying the human and business impacts of this pandemic.
The findings of our golf facility poll are the centerpiece of a new COVID-19 webpage we’ve created that also provides key data regarding which states have placed restrictions on golf, course operators’ perceptions, consumer research that reveals how playing and purchasing behaviors have been affected, and other interesting information. Click here to see the results of our poll and check out the rest of the site: www.thengfq.com/covid-19
Among the topics covered in the survey research:
—As of March 27, 2020 an estimated 74% of in-season U.S. golf courses remain open despite the coronavirus pandemic.
—Golf rounds were up significantly (+15.2%) thru February.
—Core golfers who were planning on equipment purchases now suggest they'll simply delay. We'll continue to monitor this sentiment.
—Roughly 35% of independent/regional golf retailers remain open.
The one genuinely confounding finding no matter how you feel about whether golf should be played right now: the number of surveyed courses NOT restricting access to confined spaces beyond the 87% for dining areas:
Today in much needed virus distraction news, The Telegraph’s James Corrigancatches up with the BBC’s Andrew Cotter about the sports broadcaster’s unintentionally viral dog-dining commentary. (8.2 million views as of this post.)
Andrew Bothof Reuters checks in with AustralianCameron Percy, a PGA Tour journeyman who observes quite a bit about the current shutdown. Of particular note is Percy’s perspective “borne of a modest Australian upbringing and an acknowledgement of the precarious nature of his profession even at the best of times.”
“Every pro I’ve ever known has had a year where they’ve played like crap,” the amiable 45-year-old said at the Country Club of Wakefield Plantation course where he lives with his wife and three boys adjacent to the second hole in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I’ve always put money aside in case (of loss of form or injury). I drive a $20,000 car (Nissan Altima), don’t have a boat. Mum and dad taught me to save.
“My accountant is always suggesting I put money in the stock market but most of it is in the bank. What I’ve found from this (pandemic-related economic contraction) is that people don’t save any money any more.”
GolfDigest.com’s Sam Weinmanchats with Summit Golf Brands’ creative director Billy Draddy about their move into N95 masts. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer of Fairway & Greene, Zero Restriction and B. Draddy golfwear designed a prototype mask and has had it approved for emergency-care workers near its Wisconsin plant.
From the Q&A:
Q: So a part of you is busy with that and part is surely paying attention to what’s happening in the world. At what point did you realize you might be able to help?
A: A week ago Thursday, we got an email through our customer-service department from one of our customers who had suggested that we could make masks for emergency-care workers. I spent the weekend developing a first prototype. We got on a conference call on Monday to discuss, then looped in our Wisconsin warehouse team who would be responsible for executing. I sent my first prototype out to them. Then through our in-house embroidery and heat-sealing machinery developed two prototypes that we then took to the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency.
Yet another small company with a passion for the sport doing its part. Well done!
In other news, Seamus Golf has reopened their online store after spending the last week focused on mask-making that continues on. Requests can still be made by emergency workers at SeamusGolf.com.
The Augusta Chronicle’s Wynston Wilcox reports on Augusta National Golf Club’s donation of $2 million to help Augusta University expanding COVID-19 testing in the region and an emergency fund for the most vulnerable populations.
The release states that $1 million will go to Augusta University to expand testing in the area. Another $1 million will be given to the COVID-19 CSRA Emergency Fund, launched by the Community Fund and the United Way of the CSRA to “directly support relief efforts for the most vulnerable populations affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in the community.”
AU president Brooks Keel expressed his gratitude for the donation.
“Augusta University is incredibly grateful for the generosity and leadership of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Community Foundation to support these important efforts,” Keel said. “This gift is an immediate and important contribution to the expansion of our COVID-19 screening and testing efforts. It provides us with needed resources to limit the spread of the virus through quicker identification and treatment. There is no doubt that because of this gift, many lives will be saved.”
Given the fluidity of the situation and the overall unlikelihood of a significant event being played for some time, I find the hope of at least seeing some tournaments later this year a decent diversion.
Television factors into the equation as well, with the behemoth that is the NFL seemingly still ready to re-emerge in September. CBS, which televises the Masters, and Fox Spots, which airs the U.S. Open, would have serious scheduling issues.
This schedule, admittedly a best-case-scenario situation, would appear to be working around the PGA Tour’s playoff events. However, it’s hard to imagine many outside of Ponte Vedra Beach would prefer to see the playoff events contested over majors, particularly if the Grand Slam events have to reduce…playing opportunities by playing when the days are shorter. Graeme McDowellhas already echoed the sentiment that majors take priority over all else. Common sense says the playoffs should come after the majors.
Green in his GGP column also featured this quote from Kevin Kisner regarding the PGA Tour’s thinking on a mid-May restart.
“The No. 1 thing we need to do is get back to work. They may try to expand some fields so guys can catch up with playing opportunities but it all depends on when we go back.”
Meanwhile, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has been postponed, meaning the earliest restart in Europe would come in June.
The European Tour’s statement:
Postponement of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
The European Tour today confirmed the postponement of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open due to the continuing threat posed by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The tournament was scheduled to be the European Tour’s second Rolex Series event of 2020, taking place at Mount Juliet Estate from May 28-31, with Major Champion Graeme McDowell as host.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “The decision to postpone the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open follows consultation with all stakeholders and was made with public health and well-being as our absolute priority. Our thoughts are with everyone right now and we are all united in trying to fight the spread of the pandemic.
“With this in mind, we will continue to evaluate all aspects of our 2020 European Tour schedule, and discussions on the rescheduling of postponed events will remain ongoing until we have clarity on the global situation.”
It’s a peculiar list in the way Jones structured his course and in the holes he chose from St. Andrews, National Golf Links and Pine Valley. But isn’t that the fun of constructing a dream 18 from existing courses?
Anyway, check out how Nantz stumbled on the list and how he got it verified by the great Sid Matthew. As he writes, “Jones’ dream 18 is one of the more exciting modern Jones discoveries.”
In order of surprise/wish I knew more: Jones choosing the 8th at St. Andrews for a par-3, the 10th at National Golf Links and the 4th at Pine Valley. All superb holes but still intriguing those edged out many others or even better holes at those courses.
“There’s a lot of fun stuff available for the kids and for us here [at the family home in Florida] but I’m not sure I should mention that when you have someone locked in an apartment and can’t go outside,” Stenson says. “It’s disastrous on a global level from people being really sick to losing their lives, to the world economy plummeting. Anyone who lives paycheque to paycheque is going to feel this. Everyone will to a degree but it feels corny if I am going to complain when people are losing their jobs.”
He also gives an update on his coach, Pete Cowen, who he says did test positive for the virus but who he believes will “get through” it.
“He picked it up on his travels, from what I understand,” Stenson says. “I hope and believe he wasn’t contagious when I last saw him. I think he will get through it but he has been feeling pretty bad.”
Facing the prospect of a shutdown in the busiest time of year for America golf professionals, some organization members are unhappy at the recent PGA Of America dues call.
Jonathan Doctor, owner of JMJ Golf,filed an open letter to the PGA of America after the organization emailed members moving ahead with their normal dues payments for its 28,000 members.
Even with most golf professionals facing the prospect of reduced or no income, the organization reminded members in an email that dues must be paid on time despite the coronavirus shutdown.
However, the PGA did voice empathy in their email:
PGA Professionals will now have two payment options: Pay full dues amount any time through July 31, 2020 without penalty or late fee. Pay Section dues amount only any time through July 31, 2020 without penalty or late fee. Pay National dues ($100), Life ($44), Liability ($12 and MAP ($6) by October 31, 2020 without penalty or late fee.
“During these extraordinarily challenging times for so many PGA Professionals, we have worked closely with our 41 sections to find the best path forward regarding 2020 dues payments,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. “While we wish it was possible to waive dues for all members, as a 501(c) 6 not-for-profit organization, IRS regulations do not allow us to take such an action.
Doctor, in questioning the dues reminder in the heat of an unfolding pandemic (as per the organization by-laws, it should be noted), writes:
Maybe the view from Palm Beach Gardens is a little hazy, but the $70 billion dollar global golf industry isn't as healthy as that number would lead people to believe. Expenses to operate facilities have never been higher. Social regard for the game and for country clubs has never been more critical. Available talent to fill positions in golf facilities has never been more scarce. And the PGA Professional is without doubt the facility owners and management groups automatic reset button for cutting a budget and showing facility savings to the bottom line. It has become more difficult than ever to justify to facilities, members and students, as well as young professionals the need to even BE a PGA Member.
With their fingers on the pulse of the world and not their pocketbook, some of the European Tour’s finest chime in for a perfectly timed message as thousands suffer and brave souls try to help them. Thanks to reader Shotmaker for highlighting this…
They have a COVID-19 direct relief fund that specifically helps the most vulnerable populations affected by this crisis, including hourly wage workers, the elderly, and those with disabilities. They also connect with NGOs to provide desperately needed supplies to those on the front lines in our hospitals. We are accepting pre-orders immediately and expect to ship this limited edition t-shirt by the end of April. Order today, and we will keep you updated by email. (Link in bio to shop) Together, we can #flattenthecurve. We'd love for you to help shape our community's conversations in the days and weeks to come. Reach out to us on here, or comment below to share your thoughts - we're here for you. Look out for one another, and be well. The Linksoul Family
Greg Norman knew we needed some 80’s schmaltz to laugh at, I think. Posting this doozy of a commercial for Swan Lager, and while the theme song is cringe worthy and potentially harmful to your mental well-being in these trying times, it’s worth the risk.
And do note the re-creation of Norman’s win at Turnberry, down to the Lyle & Scott yellow sweater along with a Tommy Nakajima stand in. Spectacular stuff!
No matter what anyone says we all can make it! Sending positive vibes to all today, we WILL get through this chaos. Hope this lightens your day. Be safe, smart, and above all stay healthy. #TBTpic.twitter.com/RozVQV8N0i
If the U.S. Open is to be played at Winged Foot in late summer or early fall it will feature way less build-out than would be planned with a summer date. And frankly, given the damage to the neighboring East course and uncertain state of affairs for the corporate world, the fluid situation warranting a downsized Open seems just fine should the event happen.
As golf shuts down in many regions, there is natural inclination to wonder about maintenance. Not because anyone will be Stimping greens or measuring blade heights when a course reopens. We hope.
However, as know from Depression and World War era reports, golf courses that shut down were often lost or never quite the same due to a lack of maintenance. So to avoid compounding the economic problems induced by the COVID-19 virus, basic maintenance of many things must continue to avoid a world returning to deeper-than-necessary setbacks.
While there will always be detractors, doing basic maintenance will keep a facility going, keep some workers employed and reduce damage done by a shutdown. So kudos to the R&A for issuing these maintenance guidelines to address the governmental restrictions in the UK. (And for the posting by England Golf.)
Essential Maintenance Statement for Golf Courses during Covid 19 Outbreak
The following statement outlines those treatments considered essential for maintaining a golf course during the current government restrictions. It is accepted that golf courses exist in many different forms, on many different soil types and in differing landscapes and that this guidance may require adaption.
Greens should be mown according to the rate of growth to a maximum of three times per week. Dew removal should be considered on non-mowing days as required to prevent disease spread.
Tees and green surrounds should be mown according to the rate of growth to a maximum of once per week.
Fairways should be mown according to the rate of growth to a maximum of once per week.
Managed roughs and grass paths should be mown according to need to a maximum of once every two weeks (fortnightly). Only roughs considered to be in direct play should be mown allowing for naturalisation to areas largely out of play.
The height of cut adopted for all these areas is site specific but the elevation of the cutting height on fine turf areas is advised to minimise unnecessary stress on the turf. The aim of the above operations is to maintain uniformity, density, texture and health to allow surfaces to be quickly brought back to an appropriate playing standard once play resumes.
Irrigation and Nutrition
Irrigation and nutrition should be carried out as necessary but with the objectives of keeping the turf alive, maintaining a full sward and preventing turf thinning.
Avoid excesses of either input which will only serve to promote unnecessary growth and necessitate more maintenance.
Machinery and Equipment Maintenance
This should be carried out as required to ensure that essential equipment is kept safe and operational.
*Operations such as maintaining penalty areas (including bunkers), wider practice facilities(other than greens and tees), aeration, top dressing and spraying are not considered essential at this time. However, it is conceivable that occasional spraying to control an acute pest, weed or disease problem may be considered essential at times and in some circumstances.
Given the fluidity of the current situation there may be a requirement to update and re-issue this guidance in respect of future government advice.
If you’re looking for a little virus-shutdown inspiration, I’d point you to the efforts of Los Angeles’ elite clubs taking care of golf’s ultimate gig economy entrepreneurs and on-course pyschoanalysts: the caddies. You know the pro jocks.
While this seemingly involves a mere effort toward first world-perk sustainability, we all know how caddying pays. Or what the hours are like and who the clients are! So while the effort detailed below only impacts a small number, those with open minds will realize how the efforts in LA may be need to be replicated nationally and internationally. Only the future of one of the world’s oldest professions is at stake.
A profession that has given us some of the game’s greatest players and characters.
The issue simplified: while other golf and country club staff are more likely to be entitled to benefits and official assistance programs during COVID-19 related closures, California labor laws do not allow clubs to offer official assistance. (Independent contractors in the gig economy may struggle to reap any benefits from governmental intervention, a story for another day soon, hopefully.)
Inspired by Wilshire Country Clubmembers Dan Hubbert and Matt Sinnreich (detailed here byGolfDigest.com’s Dave Shedloski), each of the other elite LA clubs has followed suit by taking donations collected by an individual member, or more commonly, using GoFundMe. The idea is to help caddies with their bills while courses are closed.
I’ve heard of strong efforts at Bel-Air and Brentwood. A search ofGoFundMe turns up efforts at Lakeside, Riviera and Los Angeles Country Club in addition to the original, Wilshire CC (and Las Vegas’ Southern Highlands).
As of this post the totals with the goal of dispersing emergency financial assistance:
Fans of screen and sport will get a kick out of some from Riviera’s donor group. One just signed a nice 2-year $60 million deal. But more vitally, the dollar figures are impressive and hopefully inspire those who can afford to give back in the name of protecting golf’s treasured caddies.
It’s early still but the immediate creativity and focus on club employees who are out of work is heartening. Just one highlight from the story:
On the other end of the spectrum (and, well, we do mean the other end), the Country Club of Fairfax in Fairfax, Va., is offering free toilet paper in limited quantities to its members, but management is encouraging the members to instead donate $20 per roll to add to an employee relief fund established for the club staff.
In Newtown, Pa., the members of Jericho National Golf Club are taking a different tack. They have requested that their $150 monthly food minimum be given to the club’s employees.
Reassigning employees, or cross-training them, is a plan enacted by many clubs to keep their staffs working—and earning income. This has enabled The Cliffs and Kiawah Island Club in South Carolina, both owned by South Street Partners, to keep their 1,100 seasonal personnel employed.
One of golf’s oldest and neatest places has shut down as ordered by the government, but is also signaling to members that survival is up in the air. Thanks to reader Chris for highlighting this distressing Tweet posted by Brora Golf Club to its members.
FYI to those looking to show some support: the club accepts international members. Even better, “membership applications are not required to be proposed and seconded by a member of the Brora Golf Club.” Al Czervik, eat your heart out!
I’ve put a pause on reading the various golf-goes-on stories at this point (but thanks to all who sent them in). Nearly every outlet in a decently populated area dispatched a reporter to check out golf course activity.
As much as the dreadful COVD-19 appeared to be an opportunity to serve as an outlet while combating the coronavirus, it’s clear the best way for the virus to be eradicated is through social distancing. And while golf has generally complied—except for the inexplicable renting of carts or allowing multiple riders—the game must come to a halt.
Not because it’s suddenly less safe. But to avoid pretzly paragraph, everything must shut down because the planet is populated by a staggering number of numskulls who simply do not get it. Grade A, Prime Cut, All-Conference morons.
Depending on where you live, you’ve seen the ignorance to varying degrees. And while it’s painful to shut down an important form of exercise and a way of life for millions needing a recreational outlet, golfers have to join with the world and help stop the frightening spread.
The silver lining: golf will be able to return to normalcy sooner than most activities. With a small values and priorities reset, the sport should be stronger despite likely losing some treasured community courses during this downturn.
Based on my reading of stories over the last week highlighting golf’s benefits and safety, the sport has already planted a seed with the world as a fantastic alternative to so many others. No one will be rushing back to indoor workouts unless absolutely necessary.
And whenever normalcy is restored in pro sports, golf will like be the first major sport to resume (perhaps without spectators, initially). The sport is primed for a renaissance if it can just stomach some down time. The more we hunker down now, the sooner we can return to the links.
So while the priority must shift to stopping the spread and caring for the stricken, there will be time to ponder how this pandemic can improve the sport we all love. Golf cannot capitalize on the recent good vibes if its participants buck the rest of society. So hang up the bag, store away your shoes, and take this opportunity to prove golf has a valuable place in the world by not teeing it up any time soon.
With this in mind, Scottish Golf asks that all golfers in Scotland refrain from golfing until further notice.
We understand that this advice will have a significant impact on golf clubs across the country and we will continue to consult with industry partners to provide clubs with all information and support possible during this time of deep uncertainty.
We know that these decisions are difficult ones to make, but right now, it is our shared responsibility to prioritise the health of our local communities by working together to follow the Government guidelines. In doing so, this will ensure that we get the opportunity to play the game that we all love as soon as it is safe to do so.
Both organizations said they would provide further updates when warranted.
The good folks at Seamus Golf have made the noble decision to stop taking website orders and focus their business on making masks to help frontline medical personnel free of charge.
Their email to customers, copy and pasted here:
Over the past few days we received inquiries from primary care physicians, nurses, and first responders for our masks.
Prototyping began last week and ended with our first production run on Friday. We are using materials and constructing them in a way that each of these individuals still wants us to send them masks to use as a last resort. They have confirmed that what we are making is better than what they are resorting to use.
We do not have the N95 material but are seeking it.
By taking last week to disinfect and set up the office for social distanced production, we believe that we can continue to make products and keep our employees through this time.
We are temporarily closing the store to allow the full team to focus and assess the situation with masks. Our second production run begins tonight.
If you are on the frontline and would like an emergency kit, please email