As a healthy outdoor activity that can adhere to social distancing, golf has seen a worldwide resurgence in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 23, the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), in conjunction with other global greenkeeping groups, is recognising those who keep the game going and enjoyable with “Thank a Golf Course Superintendent Day”, encouraging all those who love golf to thank their course’s greenkeeping team.
In addition to BIGGA, other groups taking part in the global event include Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), the Australia Sports Turf Managers Association (ASTMA), the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) and the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations (FEGGA). All together the groups represent more than 31,000 golf course management professionals in 78 countries around the world.
The celebration of 23 September will include a commercial that will begin rotation on the Golf Channel in the United States and other media outlets. Social media messages will demonstrate the many ways that greenkeepers make the game more enjoyable and sustainable. Golfers and others are encouraged to join in the conversation on social media using the hashtags #ThankASuper or #ThankAGreenkeeper depending on their country’s terminology.
As courses reopened after the early months of the crisis, the demand for golf was clear. In the United States, golf rounds in June and July were up as much as 20% over the same time period in 2019 and in the United Kingdom, July rounds were up 40% over last year.
In addition to dealing with new pandemic procedures, greenkeepers continually strive to keep golf courses healthy and playable with environmental stewardship as a primary focus. Golf courses provide an abundance of habitats for wildlife and contribute significantly to biodiversity, as well as providing the platform for one of the world’s most popular sporting pastimes.
BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “The incredible surge in popularity of golf this summer has seen people of all ages get a first look at our wonderful sport and all the health and social benefits it can bring. Golf is a tricky game to learn and you’ll never truly master it, but the fun is in the trying and thousands of people have found relief from the stresses of this year as they embarked upon their journey in the sport.
“Ever since courses reopened post-lockdown I’ve enjoyed a number of Sunday afternoon rounds with my family and I know that’s been replicated not just all over the UK, but all over the world. Those experiences have been made possible thanks to the BIGGA members and greenkeepers who continued to work throughout the UK lockdown to keep courses in a condition that meant they could quickly be returned to play when restrictions eased.
“The association and its members have also played a key role in developing and maintaining the safety protocols that allow golfers to return to the nation’s fairways in a safe manner and I’m excited that the golfing world is uniting on Wednesday 23 September to say thank you for everything they do to allow families like mine to enjoy the wonderful sport of golf.”
To learn more about BIGGA and the role greenkeepers play in the enjoyment and sustainability of the game, visit www.bigga.org.uk