The pop up that hits the screen as you click on to Royal North Devon’s website leaves members and visitors in no doubt as to what they should do.
“Any member/visitor who is unwell, particularly if they have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath should isolate for seven days or until they are fully recovered,” it says.
“If you have these symptoms do not enter the club for any reason. This is standard procedure for infection control and is the single most important action to help protect other members/visitors and staff.”
An unprecedented statement for unprecedented times – but one that’s being repeated by clubs up and down the UK and Ireland as they try to get a handle on the coronavirus crisis.
BIGGA, the PGA, and the GCMA – the three associations whose members run and maintain golf clubs – sent out specific club guidance on how to deal with the crisis and RND committee member Richard Hughes said his club had already been at work producing their own plans.
“One of the obvious things is if, for instance, one of the greenkeepers was diagnosed,” he explained.
“They will all have to self-isolate so one greenkeeper, one waitress, one member of staff in the office and they would all have to self-isolate. That’s a major issue for the club and the members. It’s something we have been very much aware of over the last week or so and are trying to mitigate as much as we can.”
The clubhouse is now only open for changing room access, and the restaurant is closed until further notice. But the course and pro shop remain open.
Wherever you turn, on whichever club you focus, similar discussions are taking place.
At St Enodoc, in Cornwall, the club had already cancelled their annual general meeting next month – club president Martin Gargan wrote to members saying “we have been given unequivocal advice from the highest scientific level that a postponement is the safest option” – and two members of staff are now self-isolating.
The clubhouse remains open, but touchscreens have been removed to avoid contact.
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Close House, who are due to host the British Masters on the European Tour at the end of July, emailed all members at the weekend to brief them on their increased cleaning regimes and the steps that had been taken to brief staff on their responsibilities.
Managing director Jonathan Lupton wrote: “We are constantly reviewing the ongoing situation and will take any measures necessary to maintain the safety of our members, guests and staff at the club.
“We will continue to maintain the club to the highest standards and plans are in place within the team to ensure this continues. We will be looking to change the working patterns in the greenkeeping team to ensure the golf courses stay in great condition.”
In the light of government recommendations on Monday, some clubs have subsequently taken action to restrict access to the clubhouse.
At Newquay, who said they had two staff members self-isolating as a precaution, the decision was made to keep the course open but close the clubhouse until March 30 – with access to the locker rooms only between 7am and 6.30pm.
All club competitions and social functions were postponed but the pro shops remains open.
“We have reluctantly made these decisions, but these are exceptional times and the health and wellbeing of our members, visitors and staff is our foremost consideration and your understanding in this difficult period is appreciated,” wrote IB Henwood, chair of the management committee.
Alwoodley, in Leeds, have asked members to collect their belongings from the clubhouse at the earliest convenience should they need to “close down the clubhouse and pro shop to protect members, visitors and staff”.
What is your club doing in the face of the corona-crisis? Have your say in the comments or tweet me.
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