Could your course survive if your entire team was forced into isolation?

16 October 2020 COVID-19
© Scott Gibson A greenkeeper working at St Enodoc


Could your golf club survive a fortnight without any maintenance if one of your greenkeeping team were to be diagnosed with COVID-19?

If a member of your team develops symptoms of coronavirus or tests positive for the virus, the entire team may be forced to self-isolate for up to two weeks.

Earlier this summer we published some advice on how you can protect your golf business in case of a disease break out. In this piece we revisit some of that advice, which you can download from the COVID-19 hub on the BIGGA website.

1. Plan ahead

Before anything happens, make it a priority to put together a plan of action. Draw up a list of what could go wrong in your business if you believe a member of staff has been exposed to the virus. You’ll want to speak to department heads to get their input on this too.

Next up, go through that list and work out how you could overcome each of these problems. If you’ve anticipated a problem and you have a plan in place, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it.

2. Make it a priority to bring together a senior staff group

Your golf facility needs to have a senior group of managers who are in constant contact and can spring in to action if something happens. This should be your Club Manager/Secretary, Course Manager/Head Greenkeeper and PGA Professional and any other relevant department heads. Meet on a daily basis in a safe and socially-distanced manner and provide an update on staff absence, business pressures such as stock levels or machinery maintenance and other matters. When the crisis subsides, this group should continue to meet on a monthly basis to ensure policies are maintained and updated.

3. Draw up a comprehensive risk register across your facilities

In collaboration with the senior management team, draw up a list of risks stemming from a potential case of COVID-19 in your business or immediate vicinity that could have a negative impact on the business. The risk register should:

  • Identify risk
  • Evaluate the severity of any identified risk
  • Apply possible solutions
  • Monitor and analyse the effectiveness of any steps you take to reduce the risk
  • Unlike the overall Disaster Management Plan, the Risk Register is a more specific document aimed at identifying potential risks and detailing what steps you have taken to prevent them. At a golf facility, examples of risks could be:
  • Loss of revenue due to reduced green fees
  • Drop in membership levels due to forced closure of the club
  • Damage to the golf course due to reduced maintenance
  • Disruption with supply chains
  • Staff not being paid

4. Upskill the team on alternative key roles and tasks

What are the essential tasks that will mean the golf facility cannot operate if a member of staff or whole team is unable to work?

Identify the highest-priority tasks, such as mowing greens, taking bookings, payroll and housekeeping. Enlist staff from various departments who may be able to fulfil additional responsibilities. You’ll need a wide spread of staff in case a specific department is quarantined. Provide them with basic training and make instructional information available for each of the tasks, to allow staff who are able to work to keep the facility open.

It may also be an idea to engage in a contract with a temp agency who can provide support staff at short notice.

5. Upskill a team of volunteers in case the above team also goes down

In the event that the entire staff is unable to work, a small group of volunteers may be able to complete the most basic tasks that will allow the facility to remain open. 

Identify who these volunteers are and then provide the relevant training, including details of Personal Protective Equipment. Provide supplementary information to allow them to refresh their memory.

Make them aware that they should only attempt tasks that they feel comfortable completing and that they should never work alone.

Before enlisting the help of volunteers, make sure your facility has the correct level of employer or public liability insurance in place.

Ask volunteers to sign an agreement that will explain: 

  • Level of supervision and support they will get
  • What training they will get
  • Information regarding the golf facility’s employer or public liability insurance
  • Health and safety issues
  • Any expenses the organisation will cover.

6. Buddy up with another local club 

In the instance of a member of your team being diagnosed with COVID-19, your entire team may have to isolate but the facility across town remains open, or vice-versa. In this instance, the golf industry has an opportunity to show its strength of community and facilities can come together to support each other. 

Engage in a dialogue with the other golf clubs in your immediate area and discuss an action plan. If one of your clubs is forced to close, is there a reciprocal arrangement in place to allow members to play at a different facility? 

Alternatively, and where the risk of infection is minimal, will the other clubs be able to lend resources and staff who can complete the basic tasks that enable the affected golf club to remain open?

Helping each other out during this difficult period will strengthen bonds between golf clubs and provide positive publicity for the wider industry

7. Share all risk issues and solutions so we can all evaluate our own plans

Communication is key and you’ll need to keep your customers informed that the golf facility is operating on a reduced level. Be honest and don’t hide anything as customers will appreciate being kept informed and it will reduce the spread of rumours.

At all levels, the golf industry is a community and so if you find yourself encountering a problem or have devised a way to overcome the challenge faced, then it’s important to keep talking to each other.

Each of the major golf bodies have communications channels that can be accessed, including social media. Why not talk about the practices you’ve put in place, share a template for a risk register that you’ve put together, shout about how you’re helping another club out? The information you share may provide the answer to a problem that another facility is struggling to overcome.


Staff Photos 2020-14.JPG
Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Head of Marketing and Communications

Karl has been head of communications for BIGGA since March 2016. His duties include editing the monthly Greenkeeper International magazine, in addition to other communications activities for the association.


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