• Captain’s Update, 26th June 2020

Captain’s Update, 26th June 2020

“Truth springs from arguments amongst friends.” David Hume

It would be easy to imagine that the founders of Crail Golfing Society would have spent some time in debate with the philosopher David Hume. And it would be impossible to imagine that they had not spent a good deal of time arguing as friends do.

Coming through the streets of Crail earlier it looked beautiful, sunny and remarkably still. I had the same feeling as I approached the clubhouse – beautiful, sunny and remarkably still.
The car parks were reasonably busy with members adhering to the parking recommendations leaving a space between each car. Nobody hanging around outside the clubhouse, the pro shop or the putting green. Silence reigns.

The Zoom meetings and phone calls are a poor substitute for the robust, good humoured debates that are necessary amongst us, as friends, to ensure that club is managed in as fair and equitable manner as possible.

1. Introduction

Sitting writing this update in the Balcomie Clubhouse, looking out over the courses, summer is definitely here as the temperature soars (and I use the word advisedly) into the low 20’s (70’s F)! Maybe not a heatwave for some members in other parts of the world but almost Mediterranean for Crail.

We have tried hard to keep you informed, entertained and reassured that the Society’s interests and facilities continue to be well looked after. The role of the Management Committee is to look after the interests of the membership (many of whom are unable to visit), to preserve the Society’s cash reserves as best we can and to plan for re-opening the facilities. We need to support staff, both those who are still working in difficult circumstances and those who are furloughed without knowing when that situation may change. The club has had to adjust and adapt in these difficult times to keep operations going as best we can.

The priority now is to get momentum into the re-opening of facilities at Crail without risking the health and safety of staff and members whilst providing a welcoming environment for guests and visitors. We will adapt the clubhouse in line with Government Guidelines in the same way that we have had to adapt the golf course and the way we play golf. Change is inevitable but getting the club back fully operational as soon as possible is important for the Society but also for the local community and the local economy. It won’t be as simple as just opening the doors again and switching on the lights. Physical distancing, hygiene, cleaning, signage, adapting services and capacity are all issues which will need to be considered individually and collectively. The re-opening process might take as much collaborative effort and patience as the shutdown

2. Temporary Conditions of Play/Safe Golf Guidelines

I am pleased to inform members of the following changes to the published conditions effective from Monday 29th June 2020:

  • Members will be able to introduce an additional guest enabling a member to play with two guests, in line with the restriction of three households mixing. Members may introduce up to eight guests in one week.
  • In addition, members can now book and play on Craighead from 2pm each day in either three balls or in four balls (which include golfers from no more than 3 households).

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind members of the travel guidelines issued by Scottish Golf:

“The updated regulations state that a “drive of broadly 5 miles is considered to be local”. The travel advice is for an individual to apply good judgement and not for the golf club to determine or police”.

I would remind all members and their guests of the need for everyone to play their part in ensuring that this advice is adhered to.

Thankfully, this travel restriction will be relaxed from Friday 3rd July and I would encourage all members where possible both local and from further afield to consider bringing guests to play at Crail after this date.

At present the Clubhouse, the driving range, the practice putting greens, short game practice area and all toilets remain closed.

We encourage all our members to play their part in supporting our efforts to continue providing a safe environment to play and enjoy equitable access to the courses. We’ve all had to compromise how we would normally use the club facilities, with most of us denied the chance to play. It is only through such co-operation that the club will continue to thrive.
Thank you for your continued support and patience.

3. Re-opening Plan

We are delighted to start seeing some real clarity for the golf industry in Scotland with target dates and new guidelines. It is understandable that members and visitors will be anxious about travelling and crucial that they are reassured that Crail Golfing Society is doing everything to restart the golf season as safely as possible. We are all excited about getting all the facilities up and running again.

Government Guidance to support full reopening safely at Crail has been published. 15 July 2020 is the target date for full reopening if sufficient progress has been made to move to phase 3 of the route map. The guidance sets out key public health measures that will need to be taken to allow safe reopening including:

  • Preparing Risk Assessments
  • Establishing physical distancing
  • Enhanced hand hygiene measures and cleaning practice
  • Guidance for members and visitors to ensure they know how to plan ahead

Particularly with visitors, but obviously members too, we need to be able to give reassurance that their safety has been at the heart of planning for reopening and that the Society is providing a safe environment on and off the golf course

4. Competition Golf

The target is to start competition golf at Crail for all sections from the 1 August with a revised fixture list to be issued in mid-July compressing the season into three months until the end of October. The Match & Handicap committee have been working very hard to finalise the revised fixture list and to plan how the competitions will operate within the COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. A member’s app is currently being developed which is hoped will be available for the start of the competitions which will facilitate online entry and returning of scores. A tutorial will be available for members to assist them in using the new technology.

5. Social Golf

On the assumption that the proposed dates for easing the lockdown are achieved and we are allowed to move into Phase 3 of the Government’s recovery plan the marketing committee have proposed two events to add a bit of interest, activity and spirit back into the club.

Firstly, a member only “social midsummer league competition” involving all golfing sections in Stableford format. It is proposed to start this on Monday 6 July through to 26 July, leading up to the start of the competition golf in August. It will be a non-handicap qualifying competition. Final details are still to be agreed but the rough idea is that members can submit two cards per week, one for each course and play at their selected time. It is proposed that the new competition app will be used to provide members practice in using it.

Secondly a “virtual open for visitors” to celebrate the Balcomie 125 Anniversary and called the Friendship Cup. During July all those who entered the various open competitions which have now been cancelled will be contacted and invited to enter a virtual open which will take place from 15 July until 30 August. Visitors will book a time, record a score and submit the score to the Society by email along with their marker’s name. A leaderboard will be added to the website. Entry will be by booking a time and paying a green fee. The plan is that all bunkers will be back in play and tee markers installed by the time the virtual competition starts. However, it should be noted that this competition is entirely dependant on the Scottish Government Travel Restrictions being lifted and all toilets being allowed to be open. Limited catering will also be available.

6. Historical Nuggets

The Opening of Balcomie Links 3rd July 1895.

Next Friday 3 July 2020 is the 125th anniversary to the day of the opening of Balcomie Links. We had intended this year to have members competition to celebrate the event but like many other fixtures has had to be cancelled. This is another significant milestone in the history of the Society the background to which is as follows:

“Happy 125th Birthday” to Balcomie Links when it comes: https://crailgolfingsociety.co.uk/blog/re-opening-of-balcomie-1895

7. Website

We continue to develop our website by adding new features, historical notes and latest news so that members can keep up with current development. We hope to have the webcam reinstalled at an early date so that members can see what is happening around the first tee and the clubhouse and to make sure we are still here. Although recently the fog (East Coast Haar) would have prevented you seeing anything. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and keep up to date with Bob’s Blog, our course manager’s regular update (he will be back next week)

8. You’ve Got to Laugh!!

We asked a range of our members who had a medical background if they thought it was the right time to ease the lockdown restrictions and here’s what they said:

Allergists were in favour of scratching it, but Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but Neurologists thought the government had a lot of nerve.

Obstetricians felt certain everyone was labouring under a misconception, while Opthamologists considered the idea short-sighted.

One Pathologist said “over my dead body!” while Paediatricians responded “Oh grow up!”

Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while Radiologists could see right through it.

Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing and pharmacists claimed it would be a bitter pill to swallow.

Plastic Surgeons opined that this proposal would “put a whole new face on the matter”

Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

Anaesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas and the lofty Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say argue.

Which just goes to show how serious this health crisis really is!!

9. Final Thoughts

The impact of COVID-19 will be with us for quite a long time. It’s not just about getting through these acute few months but figuring out how we support the club for a much longer period.

We miss our overseas members and visitors; the international aspect of the Society has developed over many years with golfers coming back at the same time each year especially during the summer months. But not this year. Any recovery in visitor income will undoubtedly be a more gradual recovery and will be concentrated from July through to the end of October. Due to travel restrictions and accommodation issues any visiting golfers are likely to come from the Scottish Golfing Community rather than from further afield. No one should minimise the crisis we are in.

However it’s not all bad news as the easing of the lockdown restrictions on travelling and accommodation over the next few weeks will bring further signs of normality returning to the East Neuk of Fife and that we are past the worst. The coming months will be extremely challenging, but we will do everything in our power to bounce back as soon as possible
If you are unable to get to Crail in the foreseeable future, please consider contributing an update from your part of the world on how golf is being played. We would be delighted to hear from you.

Get ready. Look up. Look ahead. Stay positive.

Jim McArthur, Captain

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