Making Your Course “Social Distance Ready”


March 2020

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting businesses worldwide, and in an effort to protect their citizens, governors are closing those businesses whose activity may promote the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, some states have included golf courses in their executive orders. NGCOA supports the state officials’ efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19; however, we are asking them to understand golf is a hybrid business: the indoor elements of our business exist within the clubhouse, but our core business—playing golf—exists in an open outdoor environment and should be assessed differently.

Park and Play program

NGCOA feels it’s important to support public health and safety initiatives. So to adhere to the social distancing requirement, we’ve created this list of measures you can take to implement a “Park and Play” program at your course. The Park and Play program gives your golfers confidence that they can drive to your course, park their cars, get to and around the course, and back to the parking lot in as safe an environment as possible.

These measures align with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “social distancing” and sanitation practices, and have been reviewed and approved by a physician at the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Once adopted by your staff and your customers, these measures will allow your course to continue operations, help the public feel more comfortable, and set expectations on near term limitations during this trying time.

  • Encourage golfers to pay in advance over the phone with a credit card, show up to a pre-positioned sanitized cart, and proceed to the first tee without personal contact.
  • Recommend all customers update credit card information on file and book tee times or order food and beverage services DIRECTLY with the club via PHONE during the social distancing period.
  • Place appropriate signage outside the pro-shop and clubhouse entries briefly outlining the social distancing guidelines in place.
  • Place appropriate signage on carts and around the clubhouse with the phone number to call in food orders with an explanation that credit card transactions are requested.
  • Eliminate sit-down food and beverage services. Use “call-ahead,” “take-out, and/or “to go” services only. Consider delivery as an option from the beverage cart, or an additional golf cart if feasible.
  • Provide protective gloves to all staff handling cash or credit cards during all transactions.
  • Consider increasing your tee time intervals to spread players out on the course.
  • Direct players to leave the pin in the cup at all times. You can also raise the cup up an inch above the green surface and count it when the ball hits it. This is a good time for “gimmies.”
  • Follow all guidance to not exceed gathering limits established by local and state authorities.
  • Conduct no indoor events if possible.
  • Remove ball washing stations or place out of usable areas.
  • Remove all trash cans from the golf course.
  • Remove rakes from the course and temporarily play these areas as non hazards. Put a local rule in place that permits placing your golf ball in any bunker on the course.
  • Spread out driving range stations to separate customers.  
  • Remove all water stations from the course and either provide bottled water or advise them to purchase beverages prior to tee off.
  • Remove bulk scorecard, pencil and tee holders from starter areas. Only issue when requested.
  • Remove all water stations from the course and either provide bottled water or advise them to purchase beverages prior to tee off.
  • After play, ask golfers to go directly to their carts and park them in designated areas.
  • Ask your customers to personally dispose of any trash they may have in the nearby receptacles.
  • Update your website to indicate you are participating in the “Park and Play” program.

Preparing Your Facility

  • Eliminate walk-up tee times and require tee times be made in advance, while encouraging advance pay.  Update your website to indicate this.
  • Provide clear professional signage informing guests of operational changes and encourage recommended sanitation practices.
  • Increase the frequency of routine cleaning, sanitization and disinfection of all locations, especially all common and high traffic areas, and frequently touched surfaces.
  • Increase the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout the clubhouse, especially entry points and lobby.
  • Increase frequency of HVAC system filter changing, and schedule more frequent cleaning of the system.
  • Do not provide rental clubs during this period but, if necessary, ensure sanitation prior to issuance.
  • Remove all non-essential devices from the range, such as bag stands or den caddies. Place balls on the range for your customers so they can be accessed using a club.
  • Remove all merchandise items, normally smaller accessories, from your counter and place them out of reach of any customers that may be inside.
  • Minimize indoor seating in bar and restaurant as these seating should be limited and spread out for those awaiting “to go” orders only.
  • Ensure golf carts and other rental equipment are properly sanitized prior to issuing to customers.
  • Ensure approved antimicrobial products are used for all sanitation procedures.
  • Disconnect or remove water dispenser/coolers; this includes on-course units unless they offer foot control activation. Consider providing bottled water to players.
  • Remove sand containers, coolers or anything from a golf cart that could be “shared.” This includes scorecards, tees, pencils and towels – these items should not be offered during this time.
  • Short Game and Putting Practice Areas: Remove shag bags and devices that collect or push balls (such as PVC piping) from the area. Place alignment sticks, or stakes on the green as targets, and/or turn the cups upside down and leave in the hole. Remove all flags and institute a “bring your own practice balls policy.”
  • Remove bar stools if the bar is open for “to go” service; do not promote seating.
  • If portable restrooms are used, they must include hand washing stations with foot-activated devices adjacent to the units.
  • Ensure range balls are cleaned thoroughly with soap after every pick up prior to making available for customers.

Preparing Your Staff

  • Ensure staff are trained on hygiene, sanitation and food handling to learn about epidemic prevention and control.
  • Ensure staff can recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 and know how to act responsibly if they detect or exhibit symptoms.
  • All staff handling cash or credit cards must wear protective gloves during all transactions.
  • Encourage golfers and staff to replace handshakes with other touch-less forms of greeting.

Please share these tips, articles and insights, so that as many people as possible can benefit from #SafeGolf.

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