How do golf clubs respond commercially to coronavirus? – Part 1.

By: April 4, 2020

With this post, I am launching an article series where I would like to share with you how various golf club managers of leading golf clubs are trying to respond commercially to coronavirus.

My unhidden intention is to facilitate debate around this topic with you who are working in golf clubs and resorts.

I asked golf club leaders two questions:

  1. How do you minimize your golf club’s losses due to coronavirus/COVID-19?
  2. Have you got a recovery plan/idea for the post-coronavirus era?

I hope their answers will help you to win commercially against the coronavirus. I will group my contributors’ answers in 5 or more posts to help you to digest them easily.

Please, share your thoughts in the comment box below or contact me (; +36 30 279 0054) with your questions. I will help you as much as I can.

Here in the first part of the series, you will be able to read from:

  1. David Shepherd – GM, The Scandinavian (Denmark).
  2. Paul Armitage – GM, Le Golf National (the host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup; France).
  3. Robert McGuirk – GM, Prince’s Golf Club (UK).

How do you minimize your golf club’s losses due to coronavirus?

David Shepherd:

Reduce costs where possible. If the clubhouse is closed then cleaning, electricity etc. should all be minimized.

However, as a basic rule we will not cut any costs that will cost us more to recover from when this ends especially on the main asset the golf course.

Paul Armitage:

We are currently using part time employment benefits offered by the government. Our greens staff are working lower hours and on voluntary basis.

We are putting back or cancelling non-essential expenditure. We are looking to extend memberships instead of reimbursing.

Robert McGuirk:

We have furloughed all staff apart from greens staff and our sales/marketing team.

All areas of the facility are closed aside from the office in order to deal with customer enquiries, and non-essential purchases have been put on hold.

We have continued investing in the course, while ensuring we’re working within the parameters set out by The R&A and BIGGA.

Have you got a recovery plan/idea for the post-coronavirus era?

David Shepherd:

We will concentrate on keeping our core business satisfied once we get open, members will still expect a great season.

We will try and treat customers and suppliers fairly, after all they will be customers and suppliers in 2021 and hopefully onwards.

Other than that, we will concentrate on the business lines that can still be affected this year when we open like the shop, f&b, members guests greenfee and the national market greenfee business if Danish people cannot travel.

Paul Armitage:

We have 3 work groups on the go on subjects linked to re-open with new products, new ideas. This keeps the staff involved too and federates them around the future of the company and business.

Our calendar for the year is changing every day with postponements and cancellations so we are also looking heavily into yield management and making sure we foresee the right price for the right tee time.

Robert McGuirk:

It is hard to plan as we have no end date to work towards. We are however looking at added value packages and are starting to plan packages with our neighbors to drive direct business. 

I think we will see a decent bounce back once this passes…hopefully!

managing coronavirus communication

My comments & tips

People usually remember peak moments and pits during their stay in a golf resort or a golf club. I would dare to say that the moments most likely to be remembered are the pits.

Right now, is a great moment to create and provide memorable moments for our golf club guests and members. How you treat your guests and members during the coronavirus will remain in people’s mind:

  • Make your golf club guests’ or members’ jaw drop.
  • Give them something that is unexpected, but highly esteemed.
  • Make them feel special!
8 tips for helpful, comforting coronavirus communication
  1. Clearly outline the channels to be used to communicate with employees at every level.
  2. Show empathy, understanding, and compassion. In such a situation your employees’ priority will be their family and themselves.
  3. Stay focused on what’s going on right now and what your people need to know.
  4. Be clear, calm and consistent—and get straight to the point.
  5. Use your existing platforms. If you wish to use video, then put a personal face on your communication.
  6. Solicit employee questions and answer them in your regular communications, and then maintain a Q&A repository somewhere that everyone can access. 
  7. Align internal & external communication messages.
  8. Help your employees stay healthy!