COVID-19: Port Macquarie-Hastings golf clubs alter playing conditions to keep golfers on course

Closed: The Wauchope Country Club is closed but is looking forward to reopening.
Closed: The Wauchope Country Club is closed but is looking forward to reopening.

Port Macquarie-Hastings golf clubs are altering playing conditions and adhering to NSW Health regulations in order to keep players on their courses.

But not all clubs are taking up the opportunity, with The Westport Club, Hibbard Sports Club and Wauchope Country Club putting a stop to all bowls and golf.

ClubsNSW says it has gained assurances that the public can play golf at registered clubs.

Chief executive officer Anthony Ball says clubs may continue to permit or facilitate games on their courses.

"ClubsNSW is seeking further clarification from the government on this matter," he said.

"This includes whether golf and bowls players may purchase food and beverages inside the clubhouse or pro shop, to consume on the course or green.

"Golf clubs cannot allow people to assemble or meet in the clubhouse or pro shop."

A spokesperson for Wauchope Country Club said the club had made the decision to close, despite the recommendation from ClubsNSW.

"The board made the decision because of our demographic," the spokesperson said.

"We have decided to shut all bowls and golf until April 3 when our decision will be reasssesd.

"However, the board has not stood down staff.

"This decision will make it easier for greenkeepers and other staff to get us back up and running quickly just as soon as government and health regulations allow."

Emerald Downs Golf Course says golfers are following changed course conditions and interaction in and around the clubhouse and course.

"Everyone understands the requirements and recommendations by NSW Health," said Brendon Roods.

Everyone understands the requirements and recommendations by NSW Health

Brendon Roods

"We will be retaining all our staff and we've told all our guys that their jobs are safe."

He said golfers are following social distancing policies.

"At the end of the day, it is a matter of everyone being safe and smart," he added.

Port Macquarie Golf Club chief executive officer Daniel Constable says the club has decided to enable members onto their greens.

"Our decisions will be based on NSW Health guidelines and not necessarily those of ClubsNSW," he said.

"We believe following public health warnings is our best course of action.

"Players are observing social distancing, registering to play one person at a time, not congregating at tee-offs or after completion of their games and only allowing one person per cart."

Mr Constable said the club's staff had changed tee structures and was providing additional tee-off times between groups to ensure players kept within health guidelines.

"If there is any change to advice from NSW Health, our members and the club will simply roll with those announcements," he added.

He said a game of golf was, for a number of members, an essential part of their life.

"At the end of the day, golf is not as important as public health."

"We are facing new challenges but we look forward to coming back stronger in the future," he added.

Kew Country Club's Rob Dwyer says bowls and golf will continue to be played, with restricted playing conditions.

Mr Dwyer said the club was conscious of working within government policy guidelines on COVID-19 while helping members enjoy playing golf or bowls.

We are working towards providing activities that allows for social inclusion.

Rob Dwyer

"We are working towards providing activities that allows for social inclusion," he said.

He said being able to play a chosen sport may also help wth isolation issues or overcoming "cabin fever".

The club had also altered its playing conditions to bring games in line with current health guidelines.

Hibbard Sports Club had put a halt to its bowlers playing following the latest advice from the federal government.

Spokesperson Bob Pracy said the federal government had tightened the number of people allowed to congregate outside to not greater than 10.

"With those conditions it is not viable to play a game of bowls on our greens," he said.

"We were playing games with one rink separating teams and aiming for about 20 bowlers at a time."

Mr Pracy said the club would continue to maintain its greens at a cost of around $90,000 per year.

"Otherwise, you may as well dig them out," he said.

The club is also looking at ways to reduce costs. It will apply for any government funding or subsidies to remain viable, he said.

More news here: