This was initially posted on Twitter by David Wong – Deemples’ founder on golfing during COVID.
This is the perfect opportunity for Golf Courses in Malaysia to enable strictly walking golf. Since the argument is about it social distancing and being active in the outdoors. Riding a buggy is counterproductive. You don’t get your exercise in, and you put yourself at risk.
Golfing During COVID
- Touching a buggy after someone else has touched it, still puts you at risk.
- If golf shops are able to open, where you can touch a club, touch products on display, and then others touch them as well, then how dangerous is it for golfers to golf when they don’t touch anything but their own equipment.
- This segment of golfers is high income. If we want to stimulate the economy during these bad times, this is the segment that has all the free time and excess money to spend since there are no other entertainment outlets or travel that’s open now. Let them stir the economy!
- Some golfers are not going to be able to walk all 18 holes. Fair point. Allow them to just walk 9 holes. Heck or even 6 holes or 3 holes! Great way to increase the number of people picking up the sport in a small way.
COVID has put many countries in lockdown mode.
This means golf courses can’t operate, and golfers can’t play golf.
The objective of these lockdowns are to keep everyone at home, so we minimise contact with other human beings and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID.
However, in Malaysia, MCO (movement control order) 2.0 has been a bit more inconsistent in terms of what can open and what can’t open, and the communications around it.
A few examples that caused confusions were:
1 – Extensions after extensions
MCO was declared for 2 weeks. So when everyone is planning for things to open again after 2 weeks is over, it extends for another 2 weeks, and another 2 weeks after. Making it super hard for businesses to plan resources for reopening, or not.
2 – Essential services can open
However, no dine in at restaurants, only take-out. Essential services included restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores, petrol stations, car repair shops. Then it also included physiotherapy centres, hair salons, car washes, and night markets (pasar malam)? Was getting a haircut essential for survival, or getting your car cleaned? And what was it at the pasar malam that wasn’t possible to get at the supermarket?
And finally, golf shops? When golf courses weren’t open? So we can go in, touch clubs and other products on display, then others can touch them and get infected? Something we didn’t understand.
3 – CNY restrictions
So no reunion dinners. But you can eat with the people in your household, so that’s the same as our daily dinner. So the loophole around this is to have a reunion lunch? or have reunion dinners 1 day before the reunion dinner day? No visiting during CNY, but last year during Hari Raya that was ok? Does that mean one race is more valuable than the other race since the government is more concerned about the safety of one race, instead of both the same?
Then the change in SOP for CNY, to now allow reunion dinners up to 15, and CNY visiting as well. What changed in a few days to make it safe for us to be visiting people again?
Aftermath of MCO 1.0
Golfers, like all residents of Malaysia, are definitely affected by these confusions. But nevermind, all golfers want is to get back out there to golf. After all, the reason why golf participation surged so much after MCO 1.0, was because it was the LEAST contact sports, that was played on the most OPEN area, as compared to martial arts, badminton, football, basketball, swimming, gym where you share equipment, etc.
Also, people who could golf suddenly had more time and money to spend on golf, because they weren’t traveling, they had no work to do, and they had no other entertainment to occupy their time or money.
Golf & MCO 2.0
However, golf, like all sports, was also asked to shut off during MCO 2.0. The only logical reason that we can think of why golf is shut when going to the market is not, is probably the lives of golfers are probably more valuable than people going to the market, hence the government is protecting them. Maybe.
But if golf were to open again in Malaysia, we think there are a few things golf courses can do to make the golf course a safe place for golfing during COVID:
1 – Walk only golf
You don’t want to be touching another buggy after it’s been sat in by someone else. Play golf as how it was meant to be played, by walking. We always say how golf gives us great exercise. It ain’t exercising if we’re sitting in the buggy to get to our ball. Push a trolley, carry it on your shoulder, time to really exercise!
2 – Allow 6 or 3 hole golf
Of course, if you’re unfit, and can’t walk all 18 holes, do 9 holes, or 6, or even 3! Golf courses could take this opportunity to be more innovative to allow less golfing, reducing the barriers and time required to complete a round of golf. That way, you don’t have to golf only when you have 6 hours to spare.
3 – Increase membership dues / golfing fees
Members pay membership dues to upkeep the golf course. But with everyone walking, and no one renting buggies anymore, members can help by contributing more to dues, so that the club can be upkept in times of low revenue. If the members don’t take care of the club, then who will? And if members don’t want to take care of the club, are they fit to be members? That’s something for the committee to decide.
With the increased demand, golfing fees can also be increased for visitors. Golfers are already not spending on movies, traveling, or other entertainment avenues, they can definitely spend a bit more on the golf course to provide a safe environment for them.
4 – Allow buggies only for the disabled and seniors
If you’re neither one, then you better have a doctor’s prescription for getting a buggy (at a premium), and if you do successfully get a doctor’s prescription to play golf, you probably need to change your doctor.
5 – Handle your own bag
No bag drop attendant. Let’s be nice and not put the bag drop attendant at risk. You can drop your bag, but it’ll be left there until you pick it up yourself.
6 – Contactless registration and payment
With all-digital facilities available today, there shouldn’t even be any registration done on the day itself. This is for the safety of both golfers and the golf course staff. Since everyone is already registered and paid for, just head straight to the first tee, show the marshall/starter your payment confirmation, and go tee off.
7- Close all other facilities, showers, restaurants, etc.
Let’s not put the golf course staff at risk even if you want to take the risk yourself. We can always take a shower at home, and take food away on the way home. If you know you’d get hungry during your round, bring a snack, and keep everyone safe.
These are just a few things the golf clubs can do to ensure the safety of golfers and everyone who operates the golf course.
If you’re with us on this, you can join thousands of other Malaysians by signing on this petition: https://www.change.org/p/senior-defence-minister-datuk-seri-ismail-sabri-yaakob-and-the-ministry-of-health-of-malaysia-golf-for-life
And if you’re a golf course that needs help with contactless registration and payment to reduce efforts required from your team, and improve the experience and safety for golfers, do drop us a line at email@example.com, and we’d be happy to assist.
Thanks and be safe whilst golfing during COVID!🏌️♂️🙂