Prepare for a New Way of Golfing, Says Thielke

Steven Thielke.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Club members and their guests must brace themselves for a new way of golfing when they return to the region’s courses.

Given the likelihood of more stringent rules being laid down by Governments in relation to accepted behaviour in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Steven Thielke says the onus is on clubs to implement measures to ensure safe practices, increased hygiene and social distancing.

Citing some of the changes that are being planned at TPC Kuala Lumpur, where he is Chief Executive Officer, Thielke said new mindsets will be required.

“There’s a lot of practices within the operation that are going to be different,” said Thielke, during the latest in a series of Asian Golf Industry Federation podcasts with leading lights from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia

Specifically referring to the famed 36-hole venue in the Malaysian capital that has hosted the Sime Darby LPGA eight times on its East Course and the Malaysian Open (European Tour) and CIMB Classic (PGA Tour) six times apiece on the West Course, Thielke said new plans are afoot both on and off the courses.

He said: “Just to be safe, we’ll be taking extra precautions because I’m sure when people come out of our so-called isolation or Movement Control Order (MCO), there’s going to be a lot of sensitivity and concern and we want to be ready for that when we open.

“On the golf courses, we’re looking at no bunker raking so you’ll get a free drop if you’re in the sand. On the greens, we’ll keep the flags in the hole so that nobody has to touch them. We’re looking at one person per buggy with caddies optional, while there will only be takeaways at the half-way huts or drinks houses.

“At the driving range we’re looking at closing every alternate bay and at the Golfers’ Terrace and all six of our restaurants there will be social distancing. From a housekeeping perspective, we have quite an extensive programme throughout the club from a sanitisation point of view.”

Like all golf clubs in Malaysia, TPC Kuala Lumpur had hoped that play could resume on April 28. However, the Malaysian Government has extended the MCO to May 12.

Thielke said: “The Government has done a really good job in handling this. Let’s hope it stays that way. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there but at this point it seems that things are moving in the right direction. The curve seems to be flattening quite nicely.

“I’m still very busy every day, working from home, in my office there. It’s the new normal that we’re working towards. We’ve still got staff coming in, maintaining the clubhouse, housekeeping and security and we’ve also got a few staff working on the golf courses.

“We’re confident that when we open our property – hopefully on May 13 – the courses are going to be in spectacular condition largely because there’s been no play. So, there are no divots, there are no pitch marks and the staff we have out there have freedom in that they don’t have to mow before any players go out in the morning. They’ve got the whole day to do it.”

*To listen to the full interview with Steven Thielke, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/

**TPC Kuala Lumpur is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation. If you’d like to reach the Federation’s 10,000+ global audience via newsletter, website, Facebook and LinkedIn, become an AGIF member. For further details, please visit https://agif.asia/join-the-agif/

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