Bogor, Indonesia: A more rewarding overall experience awaits golfers with the region’s golf clubs having to alter their mindsets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Wee Peng Siong, a veteran of the golf club industry in Asia, it’s essential for golf clubs to recalibrate if they’re to survive and thrive.
Speaking in 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, Wee, General Manager at Indonesia’s Riverside Golf Club, cited increased hygiene and implementation of social distancing practices as fundamental elements of the ‘new normal’.
He said: “Overall, the golf industry is certainly going to evolve, but evolve in a better way. You’re going to have golf clubs that offer good sanitisation, good social distancing and good practice with their golf operations.
“Most golf courses are within 75 hectares of land and host 100 people at one time. That’s why I think golf courses can be a safe haven, but I think the business model for many golf clubs will have to go from volume to quality. Golf courses will be able to charge a little more and offer a better experience. The guys who really their enjoy golf are going to appreciate it and will be willing to pay for it.”
Illustrating his argument, Wee said at Riverside’s staging area only three groups are allowed at any time – one on the first tee, one at the staging area and one at a holding area.
“We go by 14-minute intervals for tee times so there’s enough time to do all that. I think people appreciate that. They don’t arrive and rush to the first tee and stand at the first tee with three groups in front of them, sweating in the hot sun.
“It will be a better golf experience and because of that golf courses will be able to charge a little more and we’ll do away with the price competition.
“I’ve observed that one of the things that Indonesia has struggled with over the last decade is there are too many golf courses during the week and not enough at weekends. That mutates into a competitive spirit. Naturally, based on that competitive spirit, the easiest way to compete is on price. In the past five or six years we’ve had to manage competitive pricing in this area.
“I think Covid-19 is going to reset all that, assuming social distancing is going to be part of the new normal in our lives, not just for golf but for restaurants and everything.
“Assuming that’s the case then I think the quality of the golf experience is going to go up because everybody will have to reduce their capacity – because of the size of their clubhouse and locker rooms. For example, at Riverside we only allow 20 people in the locker room at any one time. So, if you’re talking about big events that’s going to be impossible.”
To assist in improving safety at clubs, Wee advocates the use of technology where possible, citing an App being used at southern China’s Mission Hills Golf Club.
Wee said: “If you want to play there you have to download the App which is based on GPS and tracks where the users have been in the last two weeks – whether they’ve been to a Covid-19 affected area. It’s checked by security and only based on that and a temperature check you can get into the clubhouse. Unfortunately, we don’t have that infrastructure here just yet.”
*To listen to the full interview with Wee Peng Siong, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/
**Riverside Golf Club 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/