This year we had to learn how to do things in a new way to stay healthy and safe. The golf community was no stranger to this shift, as every golf course felt a level of impact. We had the opportunity to speak with Eric Knotts, PGA Head Golf Professional at Harmony Club in Timnath, Colorado. Eric shares with us how the Harmony Club quickly adjusted their operations to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and some of their best practices during these unconventional times:
Tell us a little about Harmony Club.
“Harmony is a Private 18 Hole Jim Engh Designed Golf Course. We opened in the Summer of 2007 and enjoy a robust, diverse membership who enjoy playing a unique, fun and challenging golf course. Community amenities include a Salt Water resort style pool, Fitness Center, Event Pavilion and coming July 2020, a brand new Clubhouse”
What are some new policies you have put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 but still remain operational?
“When COVID-19 was sweeping the country, our team sat down to identify several best practices in order to remain operational, while protecting our Membership. Immediately, we went to single rider policy, unless you are in the same household. We put pool noodles into the cups so that the ball would rest just beneath the surface of the cup. Bunker rakes were removed as were ball washers. On our Practice Facility, we spaced out stations more than 1.5x greater than before, as well as removed anything that can be touched. Piles of golf balls are poured out by our staff, so touching is not necessary. Additionally, our Outside Services team no longer assisted in loading and unloading Member bags, rather only delivered a sanitized cart to each player. After the round, our Golf Cars are disinfected and clean by a staff member. Additionally, due to the demand for Golf, we went to a Members only policy. This accomplished two things; availability of tee times for our membership as well as protecting our ‘core’ of Members from visitors and guests.”
Did you have to completely shut down any areas of the club? What aspects of the club did you see the most impact with these changes?
“We did have to shut down our Pool, Fitness Center and Snack Bars. Larimer County was granted a temporary special exemption that allowed us to gently open these facilities back up, under strict social distancing and health department guidelines.”
Do you foresee keeping some of these policies in place even after the COVID pandemic? If so, which ones?
“As policies are ever evolving, we strive to remain nimble, adaptable and accommodating as we navigate these difficult times. We do anticipate leaving many of our policies in place for as long as necessary.”
Is there anything "extra" you are doing to help prevent the spread?
“As for any ‘extras’ I would say no. One thing that we did learn through all of this is that due to Larimer County Health Department restrictions, guests are limited to groups of 50. With that, we were able to reopen our pool in a distanced, compliant manner, and accommodate various groups of 50 throughout the day. It has proven to be a real winner!”
What advice would you like to give to other golf courses/clubs?
“Advice I would give to other clubs is to remain focused, patient and flexible. All of us are very stressed during these strange times, and it’s important to communicate to your team that we are in this together. A good laugh from time to time helps, but remember, we are in business to be in business and take care of our Members. We need to do the right thing every day and smile as much as possible!”
We all love the game of golf and want to continue to enjoy it while minimizing possible exposure to COVID-19. This requires routine sanitation efforts from both golf course employees and golfers. Here are a few ways you can help keep yourself and others safe during your next golf outing:
Outside service employees are taking their cleaning responsibilities seriously and so should golfers. Bring some disinfecting wipes in your golf bag so you can wipe down everything you touch (literally). Steering wheels, GPS screens, golf grips, and golf cart seats are frequently touched surfaces and should be wiped down after each use. Even if you come across a water fountain, ball wash, or other community equipment on the course, wipe it down before and after you touch it. You can never be too clean!
If you are sick, don’t risk it.
Stay home if you are feeling even the slightest bit sick. Golf course employees are taking these same precautionary measures. A runny nose may not prevent you from playing a round of golf, but it could prevent other golfers from staying healthy. For the sake of fellow golfers, stay home until you are symptom-free or cleared by a medical professional.
If enough golf carts are available, try to keep it single-rider. Some golf courses are only permitting single-rider golf cart rentals unless both golfers are from the same household. This is a win-win; it keeps golfers safe and you won’t have to flip a coin to decide who gets to drive.
Maintain a six-foot distance from anyone else in your group and other groups if they pass through. A traditional post-round handshake will have to wait until the potentiality of disease transmission has diminished. Instead, tap putter heads or do an air-five to acknowledge your golf group. Leave the skin-to-skin contact for a safer time.
Respect the facility rules
Golf courses that have remained open during the pandemic have worked hard to reduce points of contact and sanitize all surfaces. As a golfer (and a customer) it is your responsibility to honor these rules and requests. Not all courses are implementing the same practices. Familiarize yourself with the specific course restrictions so you can have a great day of golf while staying compliant with health guidelines.
Don’t linger too long
As much as we wish to stick around and socialize, we need to be courteous to the golf course and make our way home shortly after your round is over. One course in Connecticut was forced to close due to golfers congregating in the parking lot after their rounds. Don’t be the golfer that ruined it for everyone else and adhere to the guidelines.
With everyone's help we can slow the spread and continue enjoying the game of golf while staying healthy and safe!