Golf during Covid-19: How we handled 2020 and what does the future hold?

Professional staff (Left to Right) David Hammond, Chris Thornton, Ben Markham

The year 2020 was challenging for the world, and in the context of golf it was truly a unique 12 months, albeit successful. In this blog we’ll look back at 2020, the hurdles we faced, how here at Leamington & County golf club we were able to operate and most importantly how we kept our staff, members and visitors safe. We’ll also look forward to how we will open in 2021, what restrictions we anticipate and how we will overcome them to make 2021 another successful year. 

In March 2020 we were plunged into a national lockdown and  in line with national restrictions, our course closed from 24th March and did not open again until the 13th May- the first day we were permitted by the government. 

Despite being down to skeleton staff, head greenkeeper Jason Cooper and his team were able to maintain the golf course in anticipation of golfs return. The club were really proud to reopen the course in such good condition given the circumstances. Initially golf was only permitted for 2 balls which we decided to space out every 10 minutes. Our head professional, Chris Thornton managed the tee times and was delighted to welcome back our keen returning members. This was a new concept for our members who for decades have been used to our ‘turn up and play’ philosophy. Later on in the summer we were able to open up to fourballs and start to welcome back visitors on occasions when the golf course wasn’t in demand by our members. 

Greens staff hand mowing the 1st and 10th tee box

Our competitions committee did a fantastic job rearranging our summer events. We have a strong calendar during the golf season and with the exception of a couple, all competitions took place as normal, starting in June, with the final summer competition taking place at the end of September. It was a more compressed schedule than usual, but it was clear that the competitions were an important component of summer golf to our members. Safety of course was a main priority, competitions entrants were required to sign their own cards and the new cups allowed the retrieval of your golf ball without touching the flagstick.

Due to the busy competitions schedule and fine weather, our members were taking advantage of their membership in record numbers. Subsequently, this meant we had to manage our society and in particular our visiting bookings accordingly. Unfortunately a lot of visitor enquiries could not book in at their preferred date or time and it did seem our members had a ‘golden ticket’ allowing to play golf as and when they pleased. 

View from Clubhouse – Summer 2020

As winter arrived and the weather changed, we had to cancel and attempt to reschedule our winter team competitions traditionally held in November and into January. Once more, we had a nationwide lockdown in November so combined with the poor weather, we took the decision to postpone our winter competitions. At the time of writing, we are in the midst of another lockdown which has impacted our winter competitions even more. However, we are still maintaining a team of greenkeepers who are working throughout the lockdown and poor weather to ensure upon golf’s return, we can look forward to a course ready for the new season.

As we look forward to golf in 2021 the Government have advised that we can open again from 29th March, we are sure that golf will once again be in demand as we come out of lockdown into summer, and with the ever increasing percentage of the population receiving a vaccination we look forward to an even busier season at Leamington and County Golf Club. 

Much like last year, we will initially be open for members only. This policy will be continuously reviewed, and depending on government restrictions and uptake from our membership, we will aim to move towards allowing fourballs, and then visitors and societies later in the summer. Our membership can look forward to a less condensed competition schedule in 2021- allowing all members access to the golf course throughout the year, even if playing in competitions isn’t your thing.

There’s never been a better time to take up golf for the first time or return to the game as we (hopefully) move out of a global pandemic and see the back of Covid-19. We anticipate again that our members will be taking full advantage of their golf membership.

Its likely that as when previous lockdowns ended Golf was one of the first sports to open up so why not take a look at our membership rates, pop up to the golf club (lock down permitting) or give our team a call to have a chat about what membership packages we can offer you.

The Pro Shop Team
Tel: 01926 425 961 (option 3)
Email: proshop@leamingtongolf.co.uk

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