For many parts of the country, golf is either on the verge of re-opening or has only been back open for a few days. In many places courses are still closed but, no matter what, the Covid-19 shutdown has had a serious impact on the entire industry. Golf as we know it may look very different for the foreseeable future, with unrated bunkers, limited cart access, flagsticks left in, and ball washers taken out — although most don’t care, we’re simply dreaming of getting back on the course.
Many of our local courses are obviously struggling though, having taken a huge financial hit with weeks (or months) of no revenue stream. None of us want to see our local courses (or clubs) have to shut down because of this but the impact is potentially more far-reaching than many may realize. The ripples can be felt within all aspects of course operations, most of whom wake up early every single day — often for just above minimum wage — to make sure we’re able to enjoy this game: Greenkeepers, professionals, pro shop attendants, caddies, bartenders, restaurant cooks, waiters and waitresses. Some of these people have been able to return to work in some capacity but, for the caddies and those that would normally be tending our local 19th hole, the lockdown has been especially hard-hitting, without an end in sight.
So what can we do to help support the game in this time of need? Many of you have probably seen fundraisers and calls for help circulating around the internet with much of the focus on supporting caddie programs and clubhouse/restaurant staff while they’re furloughed or out of work. Many other clubs and courses are worried about surviving as out-of-market play and tourism is basically wiped out for the season. The extent of this pandemic is far-reaching and this is not even close to a complete list but we hope that if one of these fundraisers doesn’t connect with you personally, you’ll be inspired to do some research of your own in an attempt to support your local golfing community.
Caddies have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 shutdown. Even as courses begin to re-open, it's unclear when loopers will be allowed to carry our bags again. At Bandon Dunes alone, over 350 caddies have been out of work since March 25th. This GoFundMe has been able to raise over $210k to-date. There are plenty of other caddie fundraisers going on so be sure to check your clubs and courses for more opportunities to help.
Course Restaurant Staff
With take-out being the only viable food option these days for restaurants, most golf courses have been forced to close their bars indefinitely. This not only impacts the bottom-line of the course, it’s meant a huge number of people are currently out of work. Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco is currently running a fundraiser to support their Cafe staff. Even as golf returns this week in a limited capacity, these staff members will continue to be furloughed.
Presidio Golf Course Cafe Fund:
Outside the U.S.
We all know this pandemic has effected just about every country. The UK has been hit especially hard and for courses in Scotland that rely on international tee times from golfers making pilgrimages across the historic landscape, this is going to be a very challenging summer. Brora, an historic club in the Scottish Highlands, has been looking to raise money by selling items on their online pro-shop as well as by offering some unbelievable membership opportunities (including lifetime).
For those that have made the pilgrimage to St Andrews, you’ll understand just how important the caddies are to the community and history of the game, with caddie references dating back over 300 years. Similar to Bandon Dunes, their huge collection of caddies have been out of work since late March and it's unclear -- even when golf returns -- when they'll be able to.