Plans for the return of play - Queensland

Golf Australia has developed plans for the return of the sport on request of the various state government sport offices. The plans provide guidance for Clubs and Facilities as to how they can operate under models approved by the relevant state office.

Clubs may chose to adopt these plans if required to do so by an authority in their return to full operations following the COVID-19 crisis. If you require any assistance with the return to sport plan, please contact clubsupport@golf.org.au

A copy of the following can be downloaded from QLD COVID-19 Safeplan Guidance.pdf.


INTRODUCTION
Golf Australia in conjunction with Golf Queensland provides the following COVID-19 Safe Plan Guidance for all golf clubs and facilities in Queensland to utilise. Golf Australia understands that some clubs/facilities have created internal resource documents to assist this process and seeks to provide, through this document, further detail that can be utilised by clubs/facilities to finalise their return to play plans under the updated government guidelines.

This guidance addresses how golf clubs and facilities in Queensland can successfully manage operations under the loosening of Queensland government restrictions which will take effect from Saturday May 16.

To access the Queensland Government Roadmap to ease Queensland’s restrictions, click here. To access the map of ‘Outback Queensland’, COVID-19 Roadmap

To date Queensland Golf Clubs have done an amazing job in managing the strict restrictions in place due to COVID-19 which has allowed many golfers to have access the game they love through these extraordinary times. That being said, Golf Australia and our clubs/facilities must ensure that the Queensland Government Guidelines continue to be met to ensure that the risk of transmission continues to be minimised.


INDEX
1.) Queensland Overview
2.) Golf Operations
3.) Facility management
4.) General considerations

QUEENSLAND OVERVIEW
As of Saturday 16 May 2020, as part of stage one (1) of the Queensland Government Roadmap to ease Queensland’s restrictions, clubs may commence dinning in their cafes, restaurants, and bistros. This will be limited to 10 people at any one time, while observing social distancing of 1.5m and at least 1 person per four square meters of space. There is to be no bar or gaming activities at this stage.

For those Clubs in Outback Queensland (please refer to previous map link), this is increased to 20 people. There is still to be no bar or gaming activities.

As of 12 June 2020, it is planned that under stage two restrictions this will increase to 20 people for the above activities (50 for Clubs in Outback Queensland).

As of 10 July 2020, it is planned that under stage three (3), registered and licensed clubs may re-open, with limits of 100 people. This will extend to bar and gaming activities.

Golf Australia will provide further operational guidance on any further changes closer to these dates.

COVID-19 Safe Plans

Clubs must have a COVID-19 Safe Plan in place. We understand that the Queensland Government has prepared a COVID-19 Safe Plan which will be available for distribution in due course. Clubs should use the guidance within this document as part of their COVID-19 Safe Plan.

COVID-19 Safe Checklist information

Key Points for golf clubs:

• You required to complete and display COVID Safe checklist before trading once Stage 1 Easing of Restrictions commence on 11.59pm on 15 May 2020.
• Draft COVID Safe checklists are provided below. Final checklists will be published by Wednesday 13 May 2020.
• These checklists tell you what you need to do if you are a business in the above two categories to be COVID Safe. The checklists include input resulting from consultation with key industry stakeholders.
• You must complete the Checklist to ensure you comply with essential health requirements to enable you to open and provide a safe environment for your customers and your staff.
• You must complete, sign and display the checklist in a prominent, visible location at your business premises.
• You are not required to submit this checklist to Queensland Health, however a relevant enforcement officer can check compliance at any time and/or may ask for a copy of the signed checklist.

Draft COVID safe checklist for Restaurants and Cafes etc.


GOLF OPERATIONS

Based on the Queensland Government announcement loosening COVID-19 restrictions within Queensland, Golf Australia provides the following recommendations.

Please note, this information should be read in conjunction with Play Management guidelines that are located at https://www.golf.org.au/club-guidance-managing-play-in-the-covid-19-environment.

• Golf can be played in groups of four
• All bookings should be made online, via phone or via text message. There should be no ‘roll-up play’. For clubs/facilities with online time sheets, these bookings should be strictly enforced to ensure no congregation in the pro shop or around the first tee. For those without online time sheets, it is recommended that bookings are made via phone.
• Club competitions can be run
• Shotgun starts should be avoided to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
• Consideration should be given to the submission of scorecards via non-contact measures as outlined below:
o MMS
o App
o E-Mail
o Phone call
o Scorecards, if in use, should be distributed and collected using PPE.

General hygiene principles required, including cleaning of facilities

Golf Australia has previously communicated to clubs that their staff and volunteers should exhibit a heightened awareness of personal hygiene as has been encouraged by state and federal health departments and they should display a heightened regard for the sanitation of surfaces, of which their cleaning chemical provider will be able to provide guidance on.

Golf Australia has provided Club & Facilities with specific easy to implement changes to
regular operations to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. These include:

• Placing social distancing signage around the clubhouse along with hand sanitisers
• Sanitise motorised carts, rental clubs, push buggy and sand bucket handles and air compressor handles before and after use on all occasions.
• Sanitise all greenkeeping machinery before and after use on all occasions
• Removal of rakes from bunkers
• Encourage golfers to wear their glove when removing the flag stick. Refer temporary modification of the rules section which gives clubs the choice to adopt policies around flagsticks and bunkers.
• Remove cash transactions and encourage ‘Pay-Wave’ transactions where no contact is required
• Remove small pins from practice putting greens
• No dollar bets
• No hand shaking
• One (1) person per golf cart, unless both people live in the same household (proof required)
• Multiple tee starts should only be considered by clubs that can ensure the prescribed gathering and social distancing guidelines are met.

Please note, especially with regards to sanitation of motorised carts and rental clubs, that if clubs/facilities are not confident in ensuring adherence to COVID-19 hygiene principles then consideration should be given to not offering these options to players.

Clubs and facilities are encouraged to view the Business health and safety resources for coronavirus (COVID-19) which are available at the Queensland Government website https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/whs/resources-covid-19

Participation Programs

An announcement on the resumption of MyGolf (junior) and launch of Get Into Golf (adult) and club operated participation programs will be made as soon as practicable.

Management of people who present who are unwell, experiencing any cold, flu or fever type symptoms

As per health guidelines Golf Australia continues to recommend to clubs/facilities to advise their members and guests if they are experiencing any cold, flu or fever type symptoms they must not visit the golf facility. Additionally, we recommend that these persons should seek to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Access and egress protocols

Players should arrive at your facility no more than 10 minutes prior to their tee time (unless practice facilities allow for prescribed gathering guidelines). Upon arrival, players should head directly to the Pro Shop or check-in area, whilst adhering to density protocols. Scorecards, if in use, should be collected and players should head directly to the tee.

At the conclusion of the round, players should immediately return to their car and depart the facility. Unless utilising a food and beverage service (following prescribed gathering guidelines), at no stage should players remain at the facility. Clubs/facilities should ensure that there are no mass gathering opportunities available to players in any area of your facility.

Staff

Many clubs and facilities have implemented split shifts across greenkeeping staff and this will continue to be encouraged by Golf Australia.

Requirements of non-sporting attendees such as parents

Per published Australian Institute of Sport Principles, community sport and recreation activities should limit those present to the minimum required to support the participants (e.g. one parent or carer per child if necessary), who are to keep away from all participants and observe social distancing guidelines of 1.5 metres per person.

FACILITY MANAGEMENT

Use of other club facilities

Clubhouse

Management must ensure procedures and policies are in place to ensure the facility adheres to density requirements set by the state government in the Emergency Management Direction.

Clubs/facilities are able to seat up to 10 patrons at any time one time, with table service only. Most importantly, physical distancing principles must be adhered to at all times.

It is Golf Australia’s recommendation that, if clubs/facilities are unsure about their ability to manage physical distancing principles of one person per four square metres, that they should not operate their food and beverage facilities. These restrictions will be policed and in some cases, fines could be levied, so it is important that clubs/facilities minimise their exposure to risk.

For outback clubs/facilities, up to 20 patrons can be seated at any one time, with table service only. Proof of residence must be shown to ensure that patrons are local to the area.

Change rooms / Toilets

Indoor toilets can be used, with a maximum of 10 people only, with a limit of one person per four square metres.

Change, Locker & Shower rooms must be closed.

Golf Australia recommends that items such as shoe cleaners, sun creams, hairbrushes and combs, hair gel and hair dryers from locker rooms should be removed.

Where possible, leave doors ajar so the need to push doors open or turn door knobs is removed. Per above, it is important that clubs/facilities are comfortable in managing these restrictions.

Carparks

Recommendation for players to remain in (or next to) their cars until close to their starting time eg 10 minutes prior. Some clubs (with available resources) across the country have gone to the extent of stationing a staff member (or volunteer) with a microphone/radio in the car park to manage these requirements.

Players should leave the facility immediately after completing their round unless they decide to utilise the food and beverage offering at the club/facility. No presentations can be held at the conclusion of play.

Greenkeeping operations

Clubs/facilities should continue to consider the use of split shifts for greenkeeping operations.

Readiness to advance to next level if restrictions ease

Clubs and Facility Boards and management are recommended to begin planning for Step 2 restrictions to be implemented from June 12, and Golf Australia will provide a list of further ‘return to play’ recommendations based on the most up to date information received from government.

Special circumstances that apply to your sport/recreation

Golf is a sport that lends itself naturally to social distancing, with players rarely within 1.5 metres of each other, and low density over a larger playing surface than most other sports. The sport is uniquely positioned to be played during times of social distancing and is set up well to cater for all government requirements through the COVID-19 period, as demonstrated by the behaviour of Queensland golf clubs and facilities over the past weeks. It is important that this behaviour continues to ensure our sport can continue to be played during the COVID-19 recovery period.

TEMPORARY MODIFICATIONS TO THE RULES OF GOLF

On 19/3/2020, the R&A (who are the ruling authority of golf throughout the world except in north America) announced a series of temporary measures to combat the hygiene implications associated with some of the requirements of the Rules of Golf. These temporary measures allow the Rules of Golf, and Model Local Rules, to be modified as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

This information can be accessed at https://www.golf.org.au/club-guidance-managing-play-in-the-covid-19-environment and it is recommended that clubs/facilities familiarise themselves with these modifications.

When considering these new options, clubs should be mindful of the following:

• In order to take advantage of these new Local Rule options, your club will need to announce which options it is bringing into effect for play at your facility – these options do not automatically come into effect at your facility as a result of the R&A announcement.
• Scores returned from competitions with any of the new Local Rules in effect must be processed through GOLF Link unless your club has been instructed otherwise by Golf Australia or your State Association.
• These Local Rule options are temporary and are related to COVID-19 concerns. They will be available to clubs until Golf Australia advises otherwise.


Kind Regards,
Robert Armour Andrew Newbold
Interim CEO Chair
Golf Australia Golf Australia

As outlined after the completion of the SCGZ pennant semi-finals the restrictions enforced under COVID-19 resulted in the postponement of the 2020 pennant finals.

At this time the scheduling of the final depends on when COVID-19 restrictions allow a return to golf with groups large enough for both teams and their supporters to be present for the presentation.

It is anticapated this will be a few months away.  At this stage a tentative date would be a Sunday during September.  All teams involved will be notified in advance of the date and course.

The below represents a synopsis of the Golf Australia communication.  For full details go to Golf Australia website

Please email us at rules&handicapping@golf.org.au if you have any queries on any Rules of Golf or competition management issue.

  1. What are some of the measures currently being used to manage social distancing requirements when playing golf?
  2. 19/3/2020 Announcement: Temporary modifications to the Rules of Golf.
  3. Temporary measures for sand green golf.

What are some of the measures currently being used to manage social distancing requirements when playing golf?

  1. Limit (or prohibit) access to practice putting greens and other practice areas.
  2. Only permit play by people who have pre-booked a starting time.
  3. Require players to remain in (or next to) their cars until close to their starting time – eg 10 minutes prior. 
  4. Use 1-tee starts only.
  5. Play in groups of 2 unless your state/territory guidelines allow for larger groups.
  6. Structure the intervals between starting times to ensure there is no congregation.
  7. Players to leave the facility immediately after completing their round. No presentations at the conclusion of play.
  8. Restrict the use of motorised golf carts to one person only. 
  9. Avoid conducting ‘competitive’ competitions such as Board events or monthly medals. 
  10. Offer/require registration via electronic communication (not just for time sheet bookings but also for competition entry and registration – although see point 9 above).
  11. Offer/require score submission via electronic communication.
  12. Some small clubs are opening their courses for very restricted periods only (for example, a narrow window of starting times once or twice each week). 

 

Temporary modifications to the Rules of Golf.

On 19/3/2020, the R&A announced a series of temporary measures to combat the hygiene implications associated with some of the requirements of the Rules of Golf.

EXAMPLES OF NEW LOCAL RULE OPTIONS

Scoring in Stroke Play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score

In view of concerns about handling and exchanging scorecards, on a temporary basis, Committees MAY CHOOSE to allow methods of scoring in stroke play, Stableford, Par, and Maximum Score that do not strictly comply with Rule 3.3b, or do not comply with the normal methods used under Rule 3.3b. For example:

  1. Players may enter their own hole scores on the scorecard (it is not necessary for a marker to do it).
  2. It is not necessary to have a marker physically certify the player’s hole scores, but some form of verbal certification should take place.
  3. It is not necessary to physically return a scorecard to the Committee provided the Committee can accept the scores in another way.

Flagsticks Committees MAY CHOOSE to adopt the following policies:

  1. Requiring players to leave the flagstick in the hole at all times. It is a matter for the Committee to decide whether it establishes this policy by Local Rule and provides a penalty for a breach of the Local Rule.
  2. Not have flagsticks at all.

Hole Committees MAY CHOOSE to adopt the following policies:

  1. Have course staff position the hole liner at a very shallow level so that a ball can easily be extracted without touching the sides. A ball at rest in the hole will be considered to be holed even if it is not entirely below the level of the hole. [Extra GA guidance added in April 2020: Rather than positioning the hole liner at a shallow level, many clubs are achieving the same outcome of a shallow hole by positioning small pool noodles at the bottom of the flagstick. Whether a pool noodle is used, or the hole liner is set at a very shallow level, it has become common for a player’s ball to bounce out of the hole when it would normally have come to rest in the bottom of the cup. To cater for this, clubs may introduce a local rule treating a ball as holed if it hits the pool noodle or the hole liner, regardless of whether it comes to rest in the hole.]
  2. Whilst discouraged, it would also be permissible for course staff to position the hole liner upside down in the hole so that a part of the liner is above the surface of the hole. The ball would be considered to be holed if it hits the liner (we emphasise that whilst this second option is permissible, it should only be pursued as a last resort).

Bunkers If rakes have been removed from the course, or if the Committee has requested that rakes not be used, it is recognised that bunkers may not be smoothed as effectively as when rakes are on the course. But it is recommended that no modification be made to the Rules of Golf in such circumstances, and that players be requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club. However, if this guidance to your members does not prove to be effective, Committees MAY CHOOSE to introduce either of the following Local Rule options:

  1. Treat all bunkers as ground under repair and in the general area, or
  2. Allow preferred lies in bunkers.

 

Temporary measures for sand green golf.

In March, Golf Australia announced temporary measures designed to enable clubs to remove any hygiene implications related to complying with the Rules of Golf (see Section 2 above for the details of the announcement). These measures allow the Rules of Golf, and Model Local Rules, to be modified as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some measures currently being used at some sand green facilities. We encourage each club to choose the measures that will best fit their own local circumstances and member preferences.

Flagsticks An option is to remove flagsticks from all holes as most sand greens are very small with the hole positioned in the centre (or the players are locals who know where the hole is). (When flagsticks have been removed permanently from holes by a club, consider securing a flagstick directly behind the middle of each green so players can easily get a distance on a range finder.)

Making it easier to remove the ball from the hole without touching the sides

  1. Partially fill each hole with sand to reduce its depth. When a hole does need to be emptied, this action should be performed with a gloved hand (or with a towel wrapped around the fingers). Or;
  2. Alternatively, place a towel/rag in the hole (just below the level of the lip) to reduce its depth. When extracting sand, you may also need to remove and then reposition the rag. The rag should be handled with a gloved hand. A ball at rest in the hole will be considered to be holed even if it is not entirely below the level of the hole.

Removing sand from the hole

  1. Place a towel/rag in the hole when smoothing (up to the level of the lip) to prevent sand from entering during the smoothing process. Or;
  2. When a hole does need to be emptied, this action should be performed with a gloved hand (or with a towel wrapped around the fingers).

Removing the need for players to come in direct contact with the smoother/scraper

  1. Each group appoint one player to perform all smoothing requirements for that group. Use a towel/glove when operating a smoother/scraper supplied at each hole by the club. Or;
  2. If a suitable item can be obtained, one person in each group be tasked with carrying a cheap and lightweight item to be used to smooth instead of a heavy smoother/scraper (provided the nature of the surface will be responsive to something light). Only that person to use this device – no other person in the group touch this device throughout the round. Or;
  3. Position the hole liner upside down in the hole so that a part of the liner is above the surface of the hole. The ball would be considered to be holed if it hits the liner (we emphasise that whilst this option is permissible, it should only be pursued as a last resort).
  4. Some clubs may have very few players and may even be able to remove the smoother/scraper from the course altogether and may use their foot or putter to smooth imperfections in their line. This would also be encouraged if practical at your club.

Golf Australia COVID-19 position statement

Many golf clubs around Australia have either re-opened, or are considering doing so, after recent state and territory-specific rulings or directives.

Golf Australia, while not wishing to act in a manner contrary to those specific rulings or directives, remains of the view that golf is a non-essential activity, a view which sits comfortably with the current Federal Government directive and rules to “stay at home” unless absolutely necessary.

Of course, Golf Australia is merely recommending that position to all clubs around Australia and ultimately we respect the right of the clubs to act in the way they see fit while complying with all social distancing requirements.

See the full statement here.

UPDATE: Tuesday 31, March 2020 on Golf Australia's website.

Economic Survival and Support for Businesses during COVID-19

In what is an extremely stressful time for everyone, the Australian Government and state government around Australia have release stimulus packages for businesses and not-for-profits during the outbreak of COVID-19 over the next six months.

The following is a summary of each package available, with links to contacts and further information.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT:
JobKeeper Payments

Supporting businesses to retain jobs

JobKeeper Payment – Information for Employers

JobKeeper Payment – Information for Employees

Boosting Cashflow for Employers - provides up to $100,00 back to small and meduim sized businesses.

Instant Asset Write Off Boost - the instant asset write-off has been increased from $30,000 to $150,00

Backing Business Investment - A time limited 15 month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees - If you employ an apprentice or trainee you may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage 

Queensland Government:

Queensland COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans -

Applications are now open for the Queensland Government’s $500 million COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan scheme. This scheme is for Queensland businesses and non-profit organisations financially affected by COVID-19 to retain employees and maintain their operations. Low interest loans of up to $250,000 are available to assist with carry-on expenses such as employee wages, rent and rates and other related expenditure.

Payroll Tax Support - If your business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for one or more of a range of payroll tax relief measures as a result of the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).
These include:

refunds of payroll tax for 2 months

a payroll tax holiday for 3 months

deferral of paying payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year.

Power Bill Relief - Your business may be eligible for a $500 rebate off energy bills if you consume less than 100,000kWh. This will be automatically applied on your business electricity bills.

The SCSBDGA has been carefully monitoring all information available regarding the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and remains focused on the health and safety of the Sunshine Coast, South Burnett and Glasshouse Mountains golfing community.
While the game of golf itself is a low-risk activity, there are many accompanying factors that increase the possibility of spreading the infection. Of course, the COVID-19 situation is still rapidly developing and further measures, postponement or cancellations may be necessary in the future. The following golf-specific precautions are to be followed (as a minimum):

EVERYONE

  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. DO NOT GO TO GOLF.
    • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
    • Do not congregate in close contact groups.
    • Maintain 2m distance between yourself and anyone.
    • Avoid touching/leaning on surfaces unnecessarily.
    • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

GOLF CLUB, PRO SHOP & COURSE STAFF

  • Do not schedule shotgun starts.
    • Stagger/spread the flow of players and patrons.
    • Pre-print all scorecards to avoid players using a registration kiosk.
    • Remove all flags/flagsticks from practice putting/chipping greens.
    • Ensure all benchtops, shelving, office equipment, cash registers, kiosks, card readers, etc are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Clean all contact points on motorised carts, pull carts, and course machinery daily or more frequently as required.
    • Clean all flags/flagsticks/ferrules daily or more frequently as required.

PLAYERS

Clubhouse and Proshop

  • Avoid queues whenever possible. Do not congregate in close contact groups while queuing to register/pay.
    • Maintain 2m distance between yourself and anyone.
    • Avoid touching/leaning on any surface.
    • Make sure people follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.

On the First Tee

  • Do not congregate in close groups while waiting to tee off.
    • Maintain 2m distance between yourself and anyone.
    • Do not shake hands at any time.
    • Avoid touching/leaning on any surface.
    • Do not “toss up the balls” to determine partners. Use another method.
    • Make sure people follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.

General Golf

  • Maintain 2m distance between yourself and anyone.
    • Do not ride in a motorised cart with another person.
    • Avoid touching/leaning on any surface e.g. bench seats, tee signs, etc.
    • Do not touch the flag/flagstick. Leave the flagstick in for all putts.
    • Do not touch other people’s golf equipment.
    • Do not let other people touch your golf equipment.
    • Make sure people follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
    • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Stay informed and follow official advice

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19.
Follow advice given by your national and local public health authority on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.