The Association responds to the news that golf courses in Wales can reopen from March 13 as the Welsh Government unveiled the steps to ease the country out of lockdown
The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) and the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) have welcomed today’s announcement regarding the reopening of golf courses in Wales following an easing of restrictions and it is heartening that the Welsh Parliament has recognised the incredible role golf can play in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle in a COVID-safe manner.
As welcoming as the relaxing of restrictions are, the incredibly short notice of just one day presents a significant challenge for the golf facilities of Wales to achieve readiness.
There are many logistical challenges to opening a facility at short notice and a number of facilities will be part-way through significant on or off course projects that may take time to complete.
Golfers will no doubt be eager to head back out on the course as soon as they can get an available tee time and we look forward to golf clubs becoming thriving hubs of activity once again as people enjoy the many benefits that golf can bring.
However, on behalf of our members, both BIGGA and the GCMA ask for consideration from golfers and an understanding that courses may not be able to open immediately and, when they do, they may not be prepared to the usual standards golfers have come to expect.
It can be reasonably anticipated that limitations on winter maintenance and renovations caused by an exceedingly wet winter, restrictions on activities due to COVID safety measures and the potential placing of staff onto furlough to protect the golf club business will have restricted what the team have been able to achieve.
Additionally 2020 saw participation at unprecendented levels which reduced maintenance opportunities and created more wear and tear on turf and other areas than usual.
The preparation and maintenance of a golf course is a year-round process; as life returns to the golf club following the reopening, so too will life return to the course itself. Spring will hopefully bring drier and warmer weather aiding turfgrass plants to come out of dormancy, meaning they recover from damage quicker.
While drier conditions will mean less damage from divots or compaction of the turf. As golfers return to the fairways, we ask for patience and consideration of the activities of the entire golf club team, from managers through front-of-house staff and the greenkeepers who have, like each of us at some time in the past year, worried about their livelihoods, their personal health and wellbeing, and who take great pride in their work but due to circumstances beyond their control have perhaps been unable to achieve the high standards they set for themselves.
If you have any questions about the maintenance of the course, please contact your club manager, course manager or head greenkeeper, who will be able to offer more information about the site-specific activities that have taken place at your golf club.