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The enforced shutdown of golf courses during the Covid-19 pandemic is serving to drive new enthusiasm for the sport.

“It’s often the case that you don’t value something until it’s taken away – and that’s the overwhelming vibe we’re getting globally from golfers,” said Eric Lynge, Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

Speaking during a LinksAsia webinar entitled ‘Teeing-Up for Success Post Covid-19’, Lynge said: “In the countries where courses have been re-opened, I think everybody is just thrilled to be playing golf again. Overall, what we’ve been seeing is that everyone loves to go back to their club and play golf and to be able to go on the course with their friends.

“I don’t think Covid-19 is going to hurt the participation of golf from an individual member basis. Everybody is going to value the game even more.

“The challenge is using this to expand the membership into people who don’t play golf. There is a lot of opportunity because golf is a healthy and safe sport. With some of the new restrictions it’s becoming even more of a distancing sport.”

Going forward, there’s also a need both for innovation and going back to basics, argued Lynge.

He said: “While innovating, we still have to recall that the fundamental asset of a golf club is the condition of the course. For members of any club, the number one thing they want is good conditioning. According to surveys we’ve carried out, it’s the same among business travelling golfers. They want to play on courses that are in excellent shape.

“In certain respects, some clubs have lost sight of the importance of turfgrass maintenance. This is a good opportunity for reassessment among golf club owners and operators as to how they view course superintendents and general managers … and the balance sheet will probably dictate this. The higher the green fee a club charges, the better the presentation needs to be.

“I think there’s going to be a massive change in examining a golf course as a fundamental business model and the importance of turfgrass maintenance and management as well as general management.”

In regard to innovation, Lynge highlighted the potential benefits associated with the use of drones.

He said: “There’s a lot of things that drone technology can offer on various fronts – from delivering messages to players on the course to the ability to track people’s play to monitoring distance, but without getting too intrusive.

“Furthermore, by using a drone for mapping in construction, renovation and maintenance, golf clubs and golf course architects will be able to improve their practices and planning.”

Joining Lynge as panellists on the Webinar were Patrick Bowers, Founder and Chief Executive, Vantage Pointe, and Bill Lisle, AIA’s Regional Chief Executive.

*To watch a recording of the webinar, follow the link: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/teeing-up-post-covid-19