Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates: A new-found openness and transparency among golf clubs has enhanced the prospects of a positive bounceback for the industry from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The communication sharing that’s come about from Covid-19 has been very positive for the industry as a whole,” said Paul Booth, General Manager at Al Hamra Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF).
“Sometimes golf clubs find themselves in competition with one another and you don’t want to give away any details. That’s why it’s been refreshing since the virus outbreak to see so many clubs and organisations sharing their resources and saying: ‘Look, this is what we’re doing. This has worked well. This hasn’t been great’,” added Booth, citing a variety of industry contacts around the globe, linked by chat groups.
Speaking in the latest in a series of AGIF podcasts with leading lights from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia, Booth, a 13-year veteran at Troon Golf, added: “The good thing about all of our What’s App networks, whether it’s the Troon network, Asian Golf Industry Federation or Club Management Association of America (CMAA), is that they’re all great resources for sharing information and it’s been an open book.
“I’ve attended a lot of the webinars through the CMAA and the AGIF and it’s meaningful and helpful when you’re listening to people who are going through the same situation as you are, day-in and day-out. It’s comforting to know that others are in a similar situation and are sharing their experiences.”
Booth believes this willingness among individuals and companies to unite and work together as an industry is one of the welcome improvements that golf needs to embrace in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.
So, too, is the necessity to make the most of technology to ensure golf’s reputation as a safe and healthy sport is enhanced.
Booth said: “Nobody knows how long Covid-19 will be around … or if it will ever go away entirely. But I think technology will be the way going forward – especially on-line booking systems and QR codes for restaurants. We’ve noticed that a lot of members and guests, when we give them a menu, even though we make an emphasis on sanitising it, they pick it up and then immediately sanitise their hands. So, we’re going to a QR code which comes up on your phone and you can place your orders that way.
“For on-line tee-time bookings we use EZ Links and they’ve helped us develop a ‘tee sheet’ for our gym. We now book 1½-hour slots for four people at a time. It’s an hour in the gym and then 30 minutes sanitising. With four people at a time it’s manageable as they can stay apart from each other and do their workouts.
“We’ve done something similar with our practice tee and opened that up to eight people at a time. Members can go on line and book their slot. They get a confirmation and a reminder. This process has allowed us to make sure everyone books on-line. All clubs have members who like to just turn up and play at the facility, but now we’re pushing them on-line.
“In my opinion, we’re enhancing the overall experience. Carts can be ready, everyone knows what time to arrive, bags can be out and prepared – rather than everyone running around when they turn up at the last minute. It’s a process, but I think it will be better for everybody in the future.
“The focus going forward is also going to be on health, wellness and outdoor activities. Golf is fantastic for that. I don’t think there’s any other sport where you can combine three or four people in such an environment. There’s nothing that’s safer at this time.
“It’s a great opportunity for golf and golf clubs to re-set the dial and get new people trying to play the game, and also those people who haven’t played for five, 10 or 20 years, to get them back on the course and re-engaged with the game.
“For golf it’s an opportunity to re-establish itself and stop the decline (in the number of players), so to speak, and start moving in the right direction again.”
*To listen to the full interview with Paul Booth, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/
**Troon and Al Hamra Golf Club are both members 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/