Photo by Montana Pritchard
As part of an industry-wide collaboration to lead the responsible return of golf in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the game’s allied organizations have established “Back2Golf,” a plan that outlines operational guidelines for golf facilities that adhere to nationally established protocols and best practices.
After review from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, golf leaders and medical experts, the game’s national organizations have adopted a three-phase approach for golf’s careful reopening that is focused on prolonged social distancing and enhanced sanitization practices. Using measures set by the CDC and the White House’s “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” plan, the recommendations will progress at various paces depending on courses’ geographic location.
• Access the Back2Golf Operations Playbook, which outlines best practices for the various parts of a golf business — from course maintenance to customer services to clubhouse operations — during each of the three phases.
• Access the Back2Golf Guidelines for Opening Up Golf, an overview of industry-wide guidelines.
• Access Back2Golf’s more maintenance-specific guidelines, which address setting up a touch-free course, cleaning equipment and more.
“The Back2Golf playbook and guidelines that the PGA of America and golf’s allied organizations have put together are both comprehensive in nature and, most importantly, lay out a responsible way to get back on the golf course,” says Dr. Bradley Connor, clinical professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and an attending physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell campus. “The guidelines emphasize social distancing and other preventative measures in alignment with the plan established by the White House and CDC. Golf is a terrific recreational outlet that offers a number of physical and mental health benefits.
“While we all must remain vigilant and continue to take precautions, this plan allows golf to be played in keeping with social distancing best practices. I applaud the golf industry for helping to be part of the solution to get us back outdoors in a healthy and responsible manner.”
The Back2Golf initiative has been primarily focused on ensuring golf courses that have remained operational or will that reopen soon do so responsibly to protect golfers, employees and all members of the community. Each industry organization has distributed the Back2Golf guidelines and the corresponding operational playbook to its respective audiences to implement and administer. Updates will be made as interim guidance on COVID-19 is issued by the CDC.
“The importance of social distancing and responsible behavior during this pandemic has become a part of everyone’s daily life,” says Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, whose team took a leadership role in developing Back2Golf. “Reopening golf responsibly under strict social distancing practices is something we can all unify behind. While we recognize there is no perfect solution and various areas of the country will progress in these phases at a different pace, it is imperative that we reopen golf in a way that prioritizes the health and well-being of the entire golf community.”
Back2Golf is driven by the key stakeholders of We Are Golf, a division of the World Golf Foundation created in 2010 to spearhead initiatives on behalf of the game. Affiliated organizations include the PGA of America, USGA, PGA Tour, LPGA, GCSAA, the National Golf Course Owners Association and the Club Management Association of America, among others.
“Golf inherently provides many health and fitness benefits, including the opportunity to spend time outdoors with family and friends, which is needed now more than ever,” says Greg McLaughlin, CEO of the World Golf Foundation. “It is a sport that naturally lends itself to social distancing and the Back2Golf guidelines. We greatly appreciate the collaboration between all the allied golf organizations. It represents another example of our industry coming together for the greater good as our game has done so many times before.”
Editor’s note: Visit GCSAA’s Back2Golf hub for more golf course reopening resources, including templates for operational documents and additional information from allied golf associations.