During the government mandated shutdowns throughout Australia and New Zealand, leisure facilities were under strict instructions to remain closed. Golf facilities in many states, however, found themselves in the unique position of being able to remain open during COVID-19. Rohan Gunton, Western Australia State Manager, talks to us about how the facilities managed to enforce social distancing restrictions during this time and how they actually saw an increase in customers who were looking for activities and exercise during the isolation period.
1) Unlike leisure centres, golf was one of the few activities that was less impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Did you find that your bookings dropped by much during this period?
Golf bookings actually increased during this period by approximately 30% on that same time last year. Golf has been one of the safest recreational activities due to the ease of social distancing hence the increase in demand.
2) Point Walter Mini Golf will be opening soon. How have you managed the challenges with construction during COVID-19? Were there many delays?
We have had a few minor delays due to supply chain issues which have set us back about 6 weeks. The lighting was imported from Italy and the grass from China which have been the main items of concern. These products have now arrived in Australia which is pleasing.
3) Have you had any feedback from customers about still being able to play a round of golf during COVID-19?
Our customers have been very grateful that they have been able to continue playing golf during this period, albeit with some restrictions in place. For many of our customers, particularly our seniors, golf is their main form of exercise and social connection, hence it’s very important to their health and wellbeing.
4) Have there been any concerns from customers about social distancing during this period?
99% of our customers have been great and followed all the social distancing rules. We have had the odd customer that we have needed to speak to but the majority have been very responsible and have self-policed the rules we have had in place.
5) While golf courses were allowed to stay open in many states during lockdown, there were still restrictions in place. How did you manage these restrictions?
Good communication with our customers was key. Signage, emails, EDM’s and website updates where important but nothing is better than talking to customers directly. With this in mind, it was critical thar all of our team members knew what restrictions were in place and why these restrictions were important so this messaging could be communicated to our customers.
6) Do you have any insight or learnings to share during this lockdown period?
I’ve learned that in a rapidly changing environment speed beats perfection every time. Out of a crisis often comes opportunities and we just need to be nimble and ready to take advantage of them.
I’ve also learned that regular and ongoing communication with your team is also critical. You might not have all the answers but it’s really important that staff know that we are all in it together.