Hong Kong: On-going lockdown measures imposed by the Hong Kong Government are playing a significant factor in the overwhelming usage of facilities at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club.
Since the golf course was re-opened following an enforced 40-day closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been operating at full capacity. And according to Peter Downie, the club’s General Manager and Director of Golf, there’s no likelihood of a let-up in the foreseeable future.
“We have 1,200 golf club members, of whom about 600 are active. They’ve been coming to the club in their droves. We don’t allow any guests just now as we’re running at 100 per cent occupancy. That’s because our members can’t leave the country. Many of our members usually travel a lot, but we’re all in lockdown until probably August,” he said.
Currently, there’s a compulsory 14-day self-isolation period for travellers arriving in Hong Kong from overseas. “Most people won’t travel until the quarantine is lifted, and I can’t see that until September or October. Maybe in August they’ll let us travel to China, Macau and perhaps Taiwan. But as far as Singapore, Thailand and elsewhere, that’s not on the radar,” said Downie, speaking in the latest in a series of AGIF podcasts with leading lights from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia
Not that Clearwater Bay members are unhappy. On the contrary. They’re anxious to play as frequently as possible and make the most of the mint playing conditions that have been produced by Chris Chase and his course maintenance team who were able to carry out work uninterrupted while the course was closed for almost six weeks
Downie said: “Our Course Superintendent Chris Chase was salivating when he knew we were closing the course. I said to him: ‘What can we do?’ He replied: ‘What can we not do?’
“It was a great opportunity to renew cart paths, level tees, put in new EcoBunkers that we wanted to do with rivetted faces. We put in two new EcoBunkers and we’ll now probably go ahead and do all 60.
“We cored the fairways with five-eighths tines. That’s something that had never been done at Clearwater Bay before. We cored every fairway and filled it with Silica sand. We cored all the greens three times, the surrounds three times and approaches three times.
“To core the fairways with five-eighth tines is unheard of. We had 100 millimetres of rain in two days and we didn’t see one puddle on any fairway. It’s been fantastic and the fairways look like carpets. Chris and his maintenance team have done a great job. Our members are very happy with our maintenance staff and what they did.
“We also had golf pros driving gang mowers and triplex mowers. They enjoyed getting to see another part of the golf industry. They appreciate now a little bit better what it takes to set up a golf course in the morning.”
Downie paid tribute to all of the club’s 270 employees. “The course was closed for 40 days but I’m glad to say we didn’t lay off one person. We asked all the staff members to do one thing, and that was to take off one extra day a week since January. So, we battened down the hatches since January and we’ve saved a lot of money and accrued a lot of leave. We’ve accrued 270 days of leave a week since January so the staff have really helped.”
It’s not just the golf course that is busy at Clearwater Bay, but the Country Club, too, where spa facilities, swimming pool and three restaurants are all open.
Downie said: “Food and beverage is open. We can have upto eight people per table, 1.5 metres apart. Most of the time we’ve been able to accommodate everybody that we’ve wanted to, even downsizing to eight people per table. Our restaurants have all been running at about 75 per cent occupancy.
“The only things that aren’t open are the soccer pitch and the basketball court. Team events are not open at the moment.
“With so many of our members here for this summer, we’re putting together a lot of staycation activities for them – golf camps, tennis camps, soccer camps for kids. It’s going to remain busy.”
*To listen to the full interview with Peter Downie, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/
**Clearwater Bay Golf & Country 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/