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May 2020

ClubCorp Leads The Way With Best Practices

By Steve Eubanks

ClubCorp led the way in terms of best practices. While some multi-course operators shut down operations in the early days of the coronavirus crisis, including many with municipal contracts, ClubCorp jumped in with a series of modified rules to accommodate their members while remaining health conscious, staying in line with state ordinances.

And the courses were packed. Throughout much of the COVID-19 crisis, while nearly the whole of America was encouraged to work from home and all-time records were set for unemployment claims, tee sheets at many ClubCorp facilities remained full. Anecdotally, couples and family golf soared as people played with loved ones. 

In a note sent to ClubCorp members in the Southeast during the early days of the crisis: “This is a quickly-evolving situation and we are continuously updating our business practices based on the information available. Golf courses provide acres of open space that allow social distancing, while providing you the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise doing what you love to do – play golf.
“The safety, health and well-being of our members, employees and communities remain top of mind during these challenging times. We constantly monitor the changing recommendations from local, state and national health and government organizations, and adjust our business practices
as necessary.”

In the first week, golf carts were sterilized with hospital-grade disinfectant after each usage. But by week three, most players chose to walk. ClubCorp was the first national management company to turn cups upside down in the holes, making it easier to retrieve balls without touching the edges. The company was also the first to wedge the flagsticks in so that they couldn’t be removed.
ClubCorp also led the way with the removal of ball washers, water coolers and bunker rakes. “We would recommend that if a ball lands in a footprint or location previously played from, it would be ‘Free Placement’ with no penalty – please smooth the bunker divot with your feet,” the note to members read. 

The company also instituted strict guidelines on the cleaning and sterilizing of range balls and the distance between hitting bays on its ranges. Dividers were placed on the tees to ensure that players remained six feet apart and signs went up on the first tee asking players to remain 30 to 40 yards away until the tee was open.

“We hope you will continue to think of the course as your place to get away and relax,” the note from ClubCorp management read.

Given the number of rounds ClubCorp courses racked up during the heart of the crisis, members appeared to take the company up on its suggestion.

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