It’s far from business as usual but Australia’s golf clubs are doing the best they can to provide golfers with an outlet for some sense of normalcy as restrictions on Australians during the coronavirus outbreak continue to strengthen.
Last Thursday’s Yowani Pro-Am in the ACT was the final event on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series before the PGA of Australia postponed its entire tournament schedule. Golf Australia has been forced to cancel the Australian Junior Championships, Junior Interstate Series and Australian Interstate Series scheduled for April and May.
Restrictions announced by the Australian Government on Sunday mean that all pubs, licensed clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes (dining in), cinemas, casinos, places of worship, gyms and indoor sporting venues had to close by midday on Monday, effectively closing all golf clubhouse operations.
“Like everyone in the community, our PGA Professionals are adapting as quickly and as best they can in these extremely difficult times,” said PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman.
“Our PGA Professionals will always have the best interests of members and guests at their courses at heart and we trust that they can continue to provide playing opportunities in the safest manner possible.
“But we will of course adjust any recommendations based on the advice we receive from the Government and health experts.”
The playing of golf can continue for the most part but clubs are having to take unprecedented measures to ensure their members can continue to take to the fairways.
Peninsula-Kingswood Golf Club began taking the temperature of members entering the facility on Sunday while Parkwood Golf Course on the Gold Coast issued an e-mail on Monday outlining exactly the steps that must be taken for those who wish to continue to play golf.
In addition to cashless transactions only, Parkwood is limiting cart use to one rider per cart and implementing a number of local rules such as pins remaining in the cup at all times, balls to be retrieved in the cup by a gloved hand only and all bunkers to be treated as GUR and rakes removed completely.
“We understand these steps are a large change from our normal operations, but we must ensure they are followed at all times to ensure the safety of our staff, members, guests and community,” the club said in its email.
Play is also continuing in North Queensland but under amended provisions.
Club presentations have been cancelled and carts have been restricted to one person only but Maryborough Golf Club Professional Kurt Watts believes golf can continue to be a safe outlet for people to get important exercise.
“We are a sport that promotes social distancing naturally,” Watts told the Fraser Coast Chronicle.
“The golfing community are being urged to use common sense and follow the guidelines.”
Although the clubhouse has closed, member rounds remain strong at Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club on the Gold Coast under revised playing conditions with preferred lies in bunkers so golfers don’t touch rakes, pins staying in at all times and players scoring their own cards.
There are few more isolated courses in Australia than Cape Wickham Golf Links on King Island and it too remains open for play although bookings are essential.
“We can assure those who do visit that we have implemented strict hygiene protocols to protect patrons and staff,” the club said in a post on Instagram.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our patrons, tour operators, staff and the local King Island community for your ongoing support.”
Curlewis Golf Club on the Bellarine Peninsula was forced to close its hospitality operations on Monday to remain in line with the State and Federal Government directives but will continue to operate the golf course, driving range bays and mini golf until further notice.
“As deeply upsetting as this is for our awesome hospitality teams we are committed to do whatever it takes to keep our great community and country safe in this time of unprecedented crisis,” Curlewis posted on Instagram.
“Please be respectful of our great team during this time of uncertainty.
“We appreciate your support and understanding.”
Given the Government advice to close all non-essential services to help restrict the spread of the virus, Pacific Dunes at Port Stephens in New South Wales made the decision to close its doors completely on Monday.
“The decision to close has been made with the purpose of stopping the spread of this virus, keeping staff, golf members, residents and visitors SAFE,” Pacific Dunes said in an e-mail distributed on Monday.
“At this point in time we have no firm date as to when we will be re-opening. We will update you with any new information as soon as there are any changes.
“Golf members, we are very aware that you pay membership fees in good faith in advance for access to play golf. We are not shying away from this and trust that you understand these unique circumstances are unprecedented and in time will be working on what this will look like for the future of golf members.”