Birmingham, England: The PGA Helpline service set up within a week of the Coronavirus crisis gripping the nation has offered support to more than 5,800 members and over 1,500 golf clubs and facilities.
A team of more than 60 staff at The Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland were switched to manning the hotline and making proactive calls to members within days of the lockdown starting to take effect.
The most vulnerable of PGA members were called within the first few days of the Covid-19 health warnings, prioritising those most likely to be affected.
The work is now continuing, contacting the remaining members with a hotline manned by the PGA’s seven regional and overseas teams focused on making a second wave of calls to those PGA professionals not attached to golf facilities. These calls will continue until all of the 8,000 plus members around the world have been contacted.
“We knew we had to act fast. Even though we are dealing with massive changes to our own working practices, moving the whole staff to working remotely, we were able to switch most of our admin and support teams to this frontline service answering the hotlines and making calls,” said Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of The PGA, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“It has been incredibly well received and our thanks to all those members who have contacted us to show their appreciation. This is what we are here for and in these challenging times I think many have found it comforting to know they are not alone,” he added.
Anthony Chaloner, a PGA member based at Celtic Manor Resort, wrote: “Thanks for all your assistance. It has been of great help and the efforts of the Association have been fantastic.”
Timothy Lowe, PGA member, said: “It’s a tough time for everyone and this is just to say what a remarkable job I think you are doing. What a great community the PGA has.”
Support has ranged from initial advice on how to operate during the early days of social distancing, through to the support available once the lockdown was announced and Government finance packages made available. Members have been signposted in the direction of the PGA website and a specially created Coronavirus hub in the first instance – www.pga.info/covid-19-resource-hub/
Joe Kelly, Head of Member Support, said: “In most cases the information is available on the hub but where there has been a specific issue for some PGA professionals, then our Business Relationship Officers and Regional Managers have made over 500 additional calls to offer dedicated support.
“We have collated every question and created a call sheet for our team, so they have the answers to the most asked questions to hand. As you would imagine most have centred on the financial support available over the coming weeks and the impact on the professionals’ business longer term.”
The PGA has also extended its support service to golf clubs and facilities and dealt with and made calls to more than 1,000 general managers or volunteer Board Members. Many are seeking advice on how to support their PGA professionals during the coming weeks, but the helpline has also answered queries of the financial support available to facilities.
Maxfield said: “This is the first time we have reached out to golf clubs specifically although we have more than 20% of our membership in director of golf or management roles at facilities. We felt it was important to support those facilities that engage our members and are happy to extend whatever help and expertise we can offer during these difficult times and beyond.
“At some point we will be coming through this and it will be even more important that as an industry we act as one. We are in constant contact as governing bodies and with our representatives in Parliament and as the situation unfolds, the PGA will continue to communicate to the wider industry at large.”