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What You Should Do About Your Golf Outing

How to plan in light of COVID-19

by OSAE Foundation Board Member Brian Laurent, Ohio Superintendent Network

First of all, I hope that you, your loved ones and your businesses are all doing well and finding ways to navigate these difficult times. It’s been challenging for all of us in many different ways, but I’m encouraged by the resiliency and creativity displayed over the last few weeks and months to overcome the obstacles presented by COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order.

I know that many organizations out there rely on annual golf outings to raise funds to support their mission, and as a result of the current environment, you may have questions about what to do about their event. Having been working with the state of Ohio on behalf of the golf industry prior to the implementation of the stay-at-home order, here’s some information that may be helpful while considering what to do with your golf outing:

  1. Golf is still able to played throughout the state of Ohio (with restrictions; more info further down in the article). Some courses chose to close voluntarily, but the majority have already reopened or are planning to do so in the coming weeks.
  2. The game looks a little different! To eliminate common touch-points on the golf course, facilities have used a little creativity to allow the game to continue to be played. The next time you go out to play, you may find that the cup is above the ground or a pool noodle or piece of PVC is placed in the hole so that the ball does not go all the way down to to the bottom of the cup. These measures make it so that you do not need to touch the flag stick at any point during your round. You’ll also find that water coolers, ball washers, bunker rakes, and other commonly used items have been removed to protect players and employees of the course.
  3. Golf carts are going to be in demand! Most outings rely on golf carts to get their players around the course. With social distancing guidelines in place, a one person per cart rule has been implemented to ensure that you’re keeping your distance from your playing partners. Some facilities are experimenting with Plexiglass or plastic dividers in carts, similar to what you see at register at your local grocery store or retail location. The idea is that this would allow two people to share a cart with minimal risk of exposure to the virus. This method is in the infancy stages and their ability to be used will vary from county to county based on the local health department’s approval.
  4. Standard shotgun outings will likely be impacted with the current restrictions to gatherings of 10 or more people. Since most outings include some type of pre-registration and post-outing receptions, these activities would not be allowed based on the current guidelines. As you all know, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to how long these restrictions will be in place, so planning is certainly impacted!

On the bright side, again, golf is able to be played. If you would still like to host an annual golf outing, here are some suggestions:

  1. Change your event to tee times instead of a shotgun start. By staggering your groups, you would likely be able to host an event with minimal gathering and interaction between players.
  2. Find unique ways to host virtual receptions and keep attendees engaged in your outing using some simple tools like Zoom and an electronic scoreboard to track scores throughout the day. Something as simple as Google Sheets can be used to post scores and give your players a live look at how they stack up against the competition.

The most important piece of advice is to check with the golf course and local health department to approve and/or revise your outing plans. Some private clubs have restricted play to members only and are eliminating all outside events. Additionally, these activities are governed at the local level and the 113 health departments throughout the state have varied opinions on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

I may be a little biased, but golf is one of the safest forms of outdoor recreation available right now. With playing fields averaging more than 135 acres, social distancing is easily achieved on the golf course!

If you have any questions about your golf outing, feel free to reach out by phone [(614) 989-2445] or email.

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