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INDIGO INSIDER: COVID-19 has personally and professionally impacted millions, and the Golf Industry is no exception

Employee sentiment is equally diverse with all forced to balance financial needs, health and safety. We have included a few thoughts below that might prove useful during this crisis.

Dear Friend,

COVID-19 has personally and professionally impacted millions, and the golf industry is no exception. Governmental edicts are wide-ranging with 38 states allowing for golf courses to remain open, albeit this has fluctuated. Employee sentiment is equally diverse with all forced to balance financial needs, health and safety. We have included a few thoughts below that might prove useful during this crisis.

One-stop Shop
The information and news about COVID-19 has been voluminous. As someone involved in golf, we are struggling to keep up with the latest and greatest of this rapidly changing landscape. To this end, Golf News Hub offers a central newsfeed - a one stop shop for all things pertaining to the golf industry. This includes operational best practices, ever-changing legislative decisions, course opening and closures, as well as the latest and greatest from golf organizations during these trying types.

What is the best way to achieve normalcy when the world around you is not? Many experts point to the importance of developing and keeping a routine during these abnormal times. The disruption of a normal schedule creates opportunity to implement long lasting positive behaviors. Specifically, now is a great time to incorporate some type of physical exercise into our daily lives to help reduce anxiety and stress. Between the multitude of apps and videos on YouTube, there is plenty of suitable content to develop a consistent exercise routine to start each day. If asked, I shamelessly plug the benefits of morning Yoga, especially as a golfer. Incidentally, added benefits to physical exercise in the morning include increased metabolism, improved focus and mental abilities, increased self-discipline and improved sleep habits.

Maximize Agronomic Efficiencies Without Jeopardizing the Amenity
Over two thirds of our managed golf courses have chosen to temporarily close. Owners and managers are exploring short-term savings opportunities while balancing the long-term ramifications of labor and expense reductions due to the closures. The elimination of any revenue is frightening; which begs the question: how/where can I safely reduce spending short-term while minimizing the long-term impact? Potential areas to adapt include staffing, agronomic schedule and cultural practices.

  • Staffing
    • A typical 18-hole golf course can accomplish necessary agronomic practices with four or five full-time employees (superintendent, assistant/foreman, mechanic and 1-2 operators).
    • Key personnel from other departments can assist with basic tasks during the closure.
    • Consider staggering shifts to improve social distancing. Begin shifts later as the course is not being prepared for golfers, grass cuts better when it's dry.
  • Reduced Agronomic Schedule
    • Greens
      • Reducing mowing frequency to 3 times per week
      • Great time for Cultural practices
        • Topdressing to protect the crowns of the plant
        • Vertifcutting
        • Aerification assuming reasonable soil temperatures
    • Fairways/Tees/Approaches
      • Remove all tee markers and reduce mowing frequencies to 1-2 times per week
      • Seed and fill divots from winter
      • Aerify and inter-seed if required
    • Rough
      • Greatest acreage with ability to fluctuate due to anticipated timing of reopening
    • Bunkers
      • Cultivate 1-2 times per week to keep weed development at bay
  • Growth Regulation
    • Applying plant growth regulators (PGRs) on greens, tees and fairways ensures that your reduction in mowing frequencies does not create more labor/resource costs
      • PGRs prevent over-stressing turf by limiting removal of top growth
        • Reduces potential for scalping damage
        • Protects much needed carbohydrate storage to endure the stress of summer
        • Makes turf less susceptible to disease

For additional agronomic suggestions, consider the following articles from the USGA:
FAQs for dealing with reduced maintenance
What happens if you don't maintain a golf course

We hope you find this information helpful as you plan for the weeks and months ahead. Every situation is unique, so feel free to contact us directly. We wish everyone good health and to stay safe and sanitized.

About the Author
With 30 years’ experience in golf, Mike oversees Indigo Golf Partners growth plans and specific lease, acquisition, consulting and third-party management opportunities. He enjoys an invaluable talent of dissecting ways golf courses, country clubs and resorts can create significant new revenue and save expenses without compromise to quality. Previously, Mike managed the company’s vast southeast portfolio. A PGA member, he is a graduate of Mississippi State University, an avid cyclist and diehard college football fan.