Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Golf clubs have an opportunity to reinvent themselves as a home-away-from-home in the post-Coronavirus era.
Steven Thielke, Chief Executive Officer at TPC Kuala Lumpur, believes clubs around the region may be best served in the uncertain months ahead by reconsidering their standard operating procedures.
“In the club business, we often talk about that third space that everyone’s battling for – that space between home and work that typically gets won by coffee shops or restaurants (in the city),” said the South African, who expects people to be especially concerned about where they go and what they do when lockdown restrictions are eased in the months ahead.
“Perhaps now the clubs can fight for that space … and be that place in which members and the public will have confidence. Clubs might be able to become that safe and secure environment, that home-away-from-home that we always talk about – that haven of refuge in a world hit by strife.
“It will be a whole new and different world for all of us in the business. It sounds pretty scary, but to some degree I think there could be an upside as well.
“The industry will recover, I’m sure, especially here in Asia. I see a potential upside for clubs if they consider those steps and come to resemble normality and be that place that people go to when they’re looking for normalness.”
As one of the first Certified Club Manager graduates from the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF)-administered CMAA programme that is viewed as the gold standard in club management around the world, Thielke is a widely respected figure in club management in Asia whose views carry considerable weight.
In the latest in a series of AGIF podcasts with leading lights from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia, Thielke says that clubs which boast extensive facilities can become the centrepoint for individuals and families as they slowly return to outdoor pursuits following the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “I have a feeling golf is going to be quite popular. There’s going to be a new drive and interest in the game of golf, and other sports for that matter, such as tennis, squash, swimming and running.
“There’s no question that activities that rely on classes as well as the banqueting and restaurant business are going to take a knock, for 2020 at least. But I’m not convinced it’s going to last forever.
“When it comes to how we’re going to plan our future, we need to take that into consideration as to how we operate. I’m sure a lot of clubs will plan on doing more takeaways for members and less sit downs and big functions.”
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