Hong Kong: All golfing establishments must take the lead in highlighting to governments that golf is a safe sport and should not be shut down in the event of a second wave of Coronavirus.
“We need to be able to prove to governments that golf is safe in such times and that golf courses are a good place to be,” said Peter Downie, General Manager and Director of Golf at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF).
Speaking in the latest in a series of AGIF podcasts with prominent figures from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia, Downie said golf clubs must be prepared for the return of Covid-19 … and be in a position to present a strong case as to why they should be allowed to continue operations when that transpires.
He said: “We have the opportunity to show governments that when we have to lock down again, don’t shut down golf. We know things are going to change and that the world will never be the same again. I don’t think we’ll close down to this magnitude again, but you’ve got to be pragmatic. We have to be safe – but you can’t let the world collapse.
“Covid-19 will come back, without doubt. It’s only a question of when. So, we have to think outside the box as to how we do business in the future.”
In the interim, Downie says clubs, and organisations such as the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, of which he is a member, and the AGIF, have to collate as much evidence as possible to illustrate the safety aspects and positive impact of continuing golf during such a crisis.
Scotsman Downie, whose well-travelled career has seen him work in the Cayman Islands, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, said: “When it does come back, maybe governments will say: ‘Golf did a great job when they re-opened so let’s just keep them open because people need exercise. You don’t need to go to the clubhouse, but keep the golf courses open’.”
At Clearwater Bay, stringent temperature checks for all visitors and strategically placed sanitising stations are now a matter of course.
A strong advocate of enforcing social distancing by walking the course, he added: “You don’t need golf carts. People should walk anyway. If you’re in a foursome, what are the chances of all four players hitting drives into the fairway? It’s very unlikely. If you’re walking four people around a golf course with their dogs, they’re closer than golfers.
“Golf is a safe activity and most people that play the game are like-minded and they’re good citizens when it comes to thinking about what’s practical.
“There’s no need to shut golf courses down. I can understand not allowing people into clubhouses and using showers, things like that. But there’s no reason you can’t walk around a golf course.”
*To listen to the full interview with Peter Downie, please visit https://agif.asia/agif-podcast/