Singapore: While play continues in certain areas of Asia, the coronavirus pandemic pinch is being felt by an increasing number of golf clubs and golf businesses across much of the region.
“These are especially challenging times for the golf industry around the world – and it’s no different in Asia,” said Eric Lynge, Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), the not-for-profit umbrella body for golf in the region.
According to research by the AGIF, golf courses are currently open for play to varying degrees in Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
However, golf courses have been closed in Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. In Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, courses are partially closed.
The status of golf courses remains unclear in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and North Korea.
Lynge said: “The situation is changing day-by-day and this is just a snapshot in time. In a number of countries, policy-makers have taken the decision to shut down golf courses for the time being. Inevitably, that’s having a significant knock-on effect with clubs and businesses being forced to lay off staff while fund-raising through charity golf is also taking a big hit.”
Lynge appealed to policy-makers in those countries to allow maintenance teams to continue their work to keep courses in shape so that when the current bans are lifted the venues will be playable immediately.
In some of the closed down countries, full maintenance is continuing with COVID-19 distancing and hygiene practices, which are allowing clubs to undertake essential work that is not available during day-to-day play.
“If clubs are practicing proper health policies, this has the dual benefit of keeping turf maintenance teams employed and completing needed work in preparation for re-opening” said Lynge.
Some other countries are just allowing minimum level basic maintenance to be carried out – mowing, aeration and irrigation with skeleton crews.
“This essential maintenance practice is challenging enough and if not allowed, it would potentially be many months before courses would be playable once the situation settles down and we return to some sort of normality,” said Lynge.
Globally, there are varying recommended COVID-19 turf maintenance practices with most major greenkeeping and superintendents’ associations advising safe practices while continuing to maintain golf courses, whether fully open, partially open or closed for play.
*In the coming weeks, the Asian Golf Industry Federation will be sharing some best practices advice from AGIF Golf Course Facility Members and AGIF education partners to assist the policy-makers determine best industry practices.