Like other leisure and hospitality businesses, the golf industry in Malaysia is set to suffer huge losses due to the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO), imposed on March 18 to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister of the two-week extension of the MCO to April 14 (from the previous end-date of March 31) has made this a truly worrisome period for golf clubs, driving ranges, academies, retail outlets, equipment brands and the various supporting businesses. While most were tight-lipped about the losses they expect to sustain, the total loss will probably run into the hundreds of millions.
Then there are the hidden losses, such as the impact of four weeks of non-maintenance on golf courses during the MCO. Turf specialist Normas Yakin noted that in the 28 days of no maintenance, the grass will still grow.
“In fact, for some well-maintained golf courses, that will be the problem … well-fertilised grasses growing to their full potential,” he said. “Coming back from the long break, it will take these courses a couple of weeks to bring the grass down to the usual cutting heights.
“However for some clubs, their frequent watering programmes may have pampered their grasses and when the workers come back, some of the grasses may have gone dormant or even died if the weather is hot.”
The worst thing that can happen, Normas notes, is if the grass is attacked by pests or disease.
“In the absence of anyone to take appropriate action, the damage could be severe. On the other hand, the absence of golfers or mowers may also limit the pests or diseases to only a few locations,” he explained.
Normas stressed that clubs will need time to get their golf courses back to normal standards.
“Grasses are quite hardy, so I am sure many golf courses can manage the recovery utilising normal maintenance like mowing, aeration, topdressing, fertilising, etc, as long as they are given time … so don’t expect to play on the first day after the end of the MCO. Give them a week or two to get the course back on its feet and maybe another week or so to get back to normal standards,” he elaborated.
To find out more about how you can manage grass during a lockdown, click here